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Vol. VI. 




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Aht. I. — Principles op Indian Government ... 1 

An Address to Parliament on the Duties of Great Britain to India* 
By Charles Hay Cameron. London, 1863. 

Letters of Lidophilus to the " Times." London, 1857. 

IXespatch to the €k>yemor of India on the subject of General Edu- 
cation in India. Parliamentary Paper, 393. 1854. 

Bambles and Recollections of an Indian OffidaL By Lieut.-Colonel 
Sleeman. London, 1844. 

A Selection of Articles and Letters on various Indian Questions, 
including Remarks on European Parties in Bengal, Sooal Policy 
and Missions in India, and the Use of the Bible in Goyemment 
Schools. Contributed to the English Press by Hodgson Pratt, 
Bengal Ciyil Seryice ; late Inspector-General of Scho^ in South 
Bengal. London : Chapman and Hall, 1857. 

Les Anglais et I'lnde. Par E. de Yalbezen. Paris, 1857. 

Akt. it. — Georob Sand 37 

Histoire de ma Vie. Par George Sand. ' Paris, 1855. 
(Euvres de George Sand. Paris, 1857. 

Art. III. — Colonel Mure and the Attio Historians • 69 
A Critical History of the Language and Literature of Ancient 
Greece. By William Mure of CaldwelL Vol. Y. London, 1857. 

Art. IV.— Hashish 91 

The Chemistry of Common life. ByJ. F.W.Johnston. 1856. 8yo. 
Pictures of Palestine, Asia Minor, Sicily, and Spain ; or, the Lands 

of the Saracen. By Bayard Taylor. London, 1855. 8yo. 
Th^se pour le Boctorat en MMedne : Du Haschisch, son Histoire, 

ses Effets physiologiques et th6rapeutique& Par J. M. E. Ber^ 

thanlt. Pans, 1854. 4to. 
The Elements of Materia Medica and Therapeutics. By J. Pereira. 

Fourth EditioiL London, 1855. 8yo. 
The Trayels of Marco Polo. Edited by H. Murray. New Tork, 

1845. 8yo. 
Pn Haschisch, et de 1' Alienation mentale. Par J. Moreau. . Paris, 

1845« 8yo. 

Art. v.— Ben Jonson IIJJ. 

Poetical Works of Ben Jonson. Edited by Robert Bell. London: 

John W. Parker and Son, 1856. 
The Works of Ben Jonson. With Kotes, &o. By W. Gifford, Esq. 


Art. YI.— The Czar Nicholas 147 

The Accession of Nicholas L Compiled by special command of 

7 ^♦^ '*^,!T15 IT** Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

ii Contents of No. XL 

the Emperor Alexander IL, by his Imperial Bfinesty's Secretary 

of State, Baron M. Korff, and translated from the ori^nal Boa- 

sian. Third Impreesion <now first published). London : John 

Murray, 1857. 
The Russian Empire, its People, InstitutionB, and Resources. By 

Baron Von Hazthausen, author of *^ Transcaucasia," ''The 

Tribes of the Oauoasus,'' &c. Translated by Rob^ Fane, Esq. 

2 vols. London : Chapman and Hall, 1856. 
,,. The Nations of Russia and Turkey, and their Destiny. By \svsl 

GoloTin, author of ''The Qaucasus." Two parts. London: 

TrUbner and Co., 1854. 
LaRussieetlesRusses. ParN.Tourffueneff. 3 tomes. Bruzelles, 

Secret History of the Court and Government of Russia under the 

Emperors Alexander and Nicholas. By J. H. Bohnitzier. 8 tola. 

London : Richard Rentier, 1847. 
Russia under the Autocrat Nicholas the First By Ivan GMknrine, 

a Russian Subject 2 vols. London : Heniy Colbum, 1846. 
Revehitions of Russia in 1846. By an English Resident. Third 

Edition. 2 vols. London : Colbum, 1^6. 
La Rttssie en 1839. Pftr le Maiquis de Cystine. 4 tomes. Pftiia, 

Russia. Abridged from the French of the Marquis de Custiiie. 

London : Longmans, 1664. 

Art. VIL — ^The World op Mind by Isaac Taylor . . 173 
The World of Mind : an Elementary Book. By Isaac Taylor. 
London : Jackson and Walford, 1667. 

Art. VIIL — Mr. Coventry Patmore's Poems . . .188 
The Angel in the House : Book I. The Betrothal. Book II. The 
Espousals. By Coventnr Patmoie. Second Edition. London: 
J. W. Parker and Son, 1857. 
Tamerton Church-Tower, and other Poems. By Coventry Pat- 
more. London : J. W. Parker and Son, 1867. 

Art. IX. — CnriLiSATioN and Faith • « • • • 198 
History of Civilisation in England. By Henry Themas Buckle. 
VoLL J. W. Paiker. 1867. 

Art. X. — ^The Monetary Crisis 228 

Report from the Beieet Comnnttee on the Bank Acts ; tocetlMr 

with the Proceedings of the Comndttee^inutes of Evidence, 

Appendix, and Index. Ordered by the House of Commons to 

be printed, July dO, 1867. 
Debate in the House of Lords on the Bank-lBsaes Indemnity Bill, 

on the 11th December 1867. Reported in ** Times'* Newi^iaper 

of December 12th. 
Debate in the House of Commons on the Reappointment of the 

Bank-Charter Committee, on the same day, sm reported in the 

Books of the Quarter suitable for Readino-Sooibtibs 264 

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Aht. L— ^ERort : A TRAdEift 269 

Mero^^ : a Tragedy. -By Matthew Arnold. London : Long- 
nums, 1868. 

Art. II. — Strauss's Lips of Ulrioh von Hutten . 280 

UMch von Hatten. Yon David Friederich Straius. 2 voIb. Leip- 

sig: F. A. BrockhauB, 1858. 
E]^ifltoke Obecurorum Yiromm, aliaque Mn Deciroi Sexti Moni- 
'tnarta vanssima. Die Briefe der Finsterlinge an Minister 
OHoinus von Deventer, nebst andem sehr seltenen Beitragen 
xur Litteratur- Sitten- und KiroheDeeschichte des sechzehnten 
Ji^ilMinderte. Heransgegeben una erlautert durch Dr. Ernat 
Mfinch. (Letters of Oracure Men to Master Ortuinus of De- 
' venter, with other very rare Contributions to the History of 
Iiettei^, Manners, and 'the Church in the 16th Century. Edited 
and elucidated by Dr. Ernest MQnch.) Leipzig, 1827. 

Art. III. — Recent Contributions to the Study of Latin 

Literature 311 

Bibliotheoa Classica : edited by George Long, M.A., and the Rev. 
A J. Macleane, M. A. — Publii Terentii ComssdisD Sex ; with a 
Commentary by the Rev. E. St. John Pany, M.A. — Juvenalis 
et'Persii Satlrso ; with a Commentary by the Rev. A. J. Mac- 
leane, M.A. 

The Speech of Cicero for Aulus Cluentins Habitus ; with Prolego- 
mena and Notes by WiUiam Ramsay, M.A. Trin. Col. Camb., 
Professor of Humanity in the University of Glasgow. 

Lectures on Roman Husbandry, delivered before the University of 
Oxford. By Charles Daubeny, M.D. , Professor of Botany and 
'Rural Economy in the University of Oxford. 

Art. iV. — Swej>enbor6iana • 336 

Arcana Ccelestia. The Heavenly Arcana contained in the Holy 

'Seiiptures, or Word of the Lord, unfolded. By Emanuel Swe- 

denborg. 12 vols. 8vo. London, 1848. 
The True Christian Religion ; containing the Universal Theology 

of the New Church, foretold by the Lord in Daniel and in the 

Apocalypse. By Emanuel Swedenboi^. 8vo. London, 1865. 
Heaven and Hell; also the Intermediate State, or World of 

Spirits: a Relation of Things heard and seen. By Emanuel 

Swedenborg. 8vo. London, 1860. 
Conjugal Love, ^a By Emanuel Swedenboig. A new edition 

revised. 8vo. London, 1856. 
Emanuel Swedenborg : a Biography. By J. J. G. Wilkinson. 

Svo. London, 1849. 
life : its Nature, Varieties, and Phenomena. By Leo H. Grindon. 

Second edition, improved and considerably enlarged. 8vo. Lon- 
don, 1867. 

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ii Contents of No. XIL 

Swedenborg's Writings aud Catholio Teaching ; or, a Voice from 
the New Church Porch, in answer to a Series of Articles pn the 
Swedenborgians. By the Vicar of Froome-Selwood^ in the Old 
Church Porch. 12mo. London, 1858. 

Art. V. — The Old Enqlish Nobility .... 860 

The Historic Peerage of England ; exhibiting, under alphabetical 
arrangement, the Origin. Descent, and Present State of everj 
Title of Peerage which has existed in this Country since the 
Conquest : beinff a new edition of the ** Synopsis ot the Peer- 
age of England^* by the bite Sir Harris Nicolas, G.C.K.G. ; 
revised, corrected, and continued to the present time, &c. by 
William Courthope, Esq., Somerset Hendd, of the Middle 
Temple, Barrister-at-law. Murray, 1857. 

A History of England under the Norman Kings, or from the Battle 
of Hastings to the Accession of the House of Pbintagenet ; to 
which is prefixed an Epitome of the early History of Normandy. 
Translated from the German of Dr. J. M. Lappenberg,,For. 
F.S.A., Keeper of the Archives of the City of Hamburg, by 
Benjamin Thorpe ; with considerable additions and correcUons 
by the Translator. Oxford, 1857. 

English Historical Society's Publications. 29 vols. London, 

General Introduction to Domesday Book ; accompanied by In- 
dexes of the Tenants-in- Chief and Under-Tenants at the time 
of the Survey, as well as of the Holders of Lands mentioned in 
Domesday anterior to the formation of that Record, ^a By 
Sir Henry Ellis. 2 vols. 1833. 

Art. VI. — RELiaioN and Society : Paley and Channino 397 
Channing, sa Vie et ses (Euvres ; avec une Preface par M. Charles 

de R6musat. 1857. 
Paley's Natural Theology. Edited by Lord Brougham and Sir C 

BeU. 3 vols. 1855. 

Art. VII. — Earl Grey on Reform 424 

Parliamentary Government considered with reference to a Reform 
of Parliament : an Essay. By Earl Grey. London, 1858. 

Art. VIII. — The Waverley Novels 444 

Library Edition. Illustrated by upwards of Two Hundred Engrav- 
ings on Steel, after Drawings by Turner, Landseer, Wukie, 
Stanfield, Roberts, ^c, includinff Portraits of the Historical 
Personages described in the Novels. 25 vols, demy 8vo. 

Abbotsford Edition. With One Hundred and Twenty Engravings 
on Steel, and nearly Two Thousand on Wood. 12 vols, super- 
royal 8vo. 

Author's favourite Edition. 48 post foolscap 8vo vols. 

Cabinet Edition. 25 vols, foolsoap 8vo. 

Railway Edition. Now publishing, and to be completed in 26 
portable volumes, large type. 

People's Edition. 5 lai^e volumes royal 8vo. 

Art. IX. — LouiB Napoleon at Home and Abroad . . 472 
La Presse, 20« Fevrier. Paris. 
Count Walewski's Despatch, Jan. 20th. Parliamentary Paper. 

Books of the Quarter suitable for Reading-Societies 496 

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JANUAEY 1858. 

Art. I— principles OF INDIAN GOVERNMENT. "^ 

An Address to Parliament on the Duties of Great Britain to India. 

By Charles Hay Cameron. London, 1853. 
Letters of IndopUlus to the " Timesr London, 1857. 
Despatch to the Oovemor of India on the subject of General JSdu' 

cation in India. Parliamentary Paper, 393. 1854. 
Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official. By Lieut.-Colonel 

Sleeman. London, 1844. 
A Selection of Articles and Letters on variotis Indian Questions, in- 

eluding Remarks on European Parties in Denaal, Social Policy 

and Jmssions in India, and the Use of the Bible in Government 

Schools. Contributed to the English Press by Hodgson Pratt, Ben- 
■ ffal Civil Service ; late Inspector-General of Schools in South Bengal. 

London : Chapman and Hall, 1857. 
Les Anglais et Flnde. Par E. de Valbezen. Paris, 1857. 

Nothing can be graver or more startling than the crisis through 
which our Indian Empire has just passed. Nothing can be more 
horrible than the details of the several catastrophes at Delhi, 
Jhansi^ and Cawnpore, Imagination probably never pictured — 
history certainly never recorded — tragedies more frightful or 
revolting. It may be doubted whether the. annals of the human 
race, even in the rudest times, and among the most savage tribes, 
could afford a parallel to the hideous barbarities which have just 
been practised by a people whose civilisation is the oldest in the 
world on a people whose civilisation is the highest in the world. 
A few thousand Europeans, scattered among a hundred and fifty 
millions of Asiatics, have been roughly roused from a noon-day 
dream of easy and confident security, and compelled to fight 
against overwhelming odds for existence and for empire; and 
have had to defend their conquests against the very men through 
whose instrumentality they had won them. " A man's foes have 
been those of his own household." In the dead of night we have 
been treacherously assailed, in the crisis of battle we have been 
baaely deserted, by the very servants who had eaten our salt, by 
the very soldiers whom we had led to victory. And gentlemen 
No. XI. Jaittjabt 1858. b 

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2 Principks of Indian Government. 

bred in the lap of luxury, and ladies tenderly and delicately nur- 
tured, and infants of helpless age,— our own wives and sisters and 
brethren and children, with whom we have lived and toiled and 
danced and sung — accustomed only to the quiet refinements and 
gentle manners andconrteous mnenities of the most polished and 
facile existence upon earth, — have had to endure brutalities and 
tortures at the very thought of which the soul sickens and the 
brain reels : ingenious, elaborate, nameless cruelties, such as no 
European ferocity, even when inspired and goaded by a persecut- 
ing superstition, ever yet dreamed of inflicting on its victims. 

Yet even amid horrors and calamities like these, we may 
discern gleams of consolation and may extract seeds of good. 
They are something more than "adversities;*' yet have their 
''sweet uses," and their "precious jewel" also. There is scarcely 
any root so bitter or so poisonous that, when subjected to the 
right alembic, it will not yield medicines both anodyne and 
curative. Thus even the Indian revolt has its bright and its 
serviceable sides ; and on these only we design to dwell. To the 
details of the mutiny we shall refer no further than as they illus- 
trate the native character, or are suggestive of the course which 
in future it may be incumbent on us to pursue. And foremost 
among the bright features of the stormy picture is, unquestion- 
ably, the display it has afforded of the grand qualities of Eng- 
lishmen. We will affect no false modesty in speaking of matters 
of which every Briton has reason to be proud, and which no 
other race, we believe in our hearts, could have rivalled. Taken 
by surprise, caught at disadvantage, over-matched a hundredfold 
in numbers, called upon suddenly to assume new duties and grave 
responsibilities, — sometimes to widd the sword whei'e they vere 
trained only to the pen, sometimes to strike for life and honour 
where they had been accustomed only to be obeyed servilely by 
word or sign, — in every case, and under every emergency, they have 
nobly vindicated the national character and &me. 

" The deacon of the mariners said well, 
* We Arteveldes are of the canvas which men use 
To make stormr^tctygaiU. * '* 

Civilians, writers, planters, have shown themselves as equal to 
the occasion as soldiers practised in the field. If we except one 
or two old valetudinarians, not a single man in either service has 
shown the least deficiency in either physical or moral courage. 
Neither man nor woman has shown the white feather, either as 
regards action or endurance. Pew have begged their life ; none 
have purchased it by base compliances. They have disdained to 
bargain or to barter. They have stood to their arms and defended 
their posts, not simply with the indomitable English pluck which 
every where shines forth, not with the mere courage of despair, but 
with the buoyant spirits of conscious and indefeasible superioiity. 

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Prmiffk^of Imdbni OonaemoBht. 8 

FeeUiig lliis; tfaey haye made iheir enomes fed it too. A hw 
ikowstakd men^ disperted in ^tnniifiilg over a vast distiict^ hme 
ooniiaered and pat down the most fimnidable mutiny reeoided in 
history^ before a single veinforoement fromiiiie xncrtter oountay 
otnild veaeh tbem. Numbers of idle^ irild^ or reckless yooAs 
have oome out and acquitted ihemseli^ in ike trial aa.noUe aad 
Cfaristian warriors. Bat for this fiery trial tfo riiould nerer kare 
learned hxyw much dauntiess heraiBm and tme nobility of soul 
lay hid in. men of whom-we had thought but slightingly^ and in 
wcmien ofirhom ire had thought only tendeily. Our country- 
men in India, both official and non^^official, no doubt eonimitted 
many oreraights and blunders, and pevhaps erren some injustice 
aQdfsome>ifrong; but tiiey hareamply atoned for ^mdnedeemed 
thamt all. They have been tried in the fouaace, and hwe proved 
pore. Thej have been the baiaooe, and have not been 

ravrrfs rrj^ ytvefjs Koi (Uftaros ef^ofiai tlycu. 

Th&'wooiid cheering feature of the catastrophe is Uie purely 
military character of the revolt. Every "fresh piece of authentic 
information we receive elucidates this point more dearly. From 
first to last/it has been a mutiny/ not an insurrection. In xk> 
case have the peasantry or the dvil inhabitants given any aotive 
partic^tton. In a > few villages' they have shown animosHy 
against the' feigitives; 'in several ihey ^have been deterred by 
craven terror of the mutineers 'fiM>m hai4M>uring or aiding Eu- 
Tt^teaasj but in. many qthers' they hare concealed them^ and 
dwwn them much kindness. Ghi this occasion, indeed, as 
nearly always is the case, the mass of the population has been 
singularly passive and apathetic; but as far as ihe Hindoos 
are concerned, they have shown themselves antagonistic to the 
revolt rather than or&erwise. And this is no more than we 
expected, and had a right to expect. For while, among a people 
composed of such a variety of distinct, and even hostile tribes, 
unity of fmtional feeling agaiiBst intruders scarcely could exist; 
and while it would be unreasonable to look among races who for 
centuries have been subject to the rule of one foreign conqueror 
after another for the animosity against their European governors 
which it is natural for Italians and fiungariens to feel towards 
their Austrian oppressors, — the respectable natives dread the 
success of the sepoys as much as we can do, for they are well 
aware that it would be to them a sentence (^spoliation and ruin : 
the peasants and cultivators of the soil know that it would issue 
in a restless anarchy, which would make security and tillage 
impossible, and would spread desolation and famine over the 
land. Both shrink from the possibility of finding themselves 
and their harvests at the mercy of a triumphant and ungovemed 

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4 Principles of Indian Government. 

soldiery. We do not mean to imply that either Hindoos or 
Mahometans love us or sympathise with us^ or look upon us 
otherwise than as an alien^ uncongenial^ and objectionable race ; 
— it is notorious that they do not^ it is impossible that they 
should ; — but all can compare our rule with that of the native 
princes who surround us^ and of the foreign conquerors who pre- 
ceded us; and all confess and feel that^ whereas formerly and 
elsewhere they were the victims of any faithlessness^ any tyranny^ 
and any caprice^ — ^under our sway, however stem and rigid it may 
seem, justice is done between man and man, promises are kept, 
property is secure, rights are respected, and brigandage is put 
down with a relentless hand. We firmly believe that, if we make 
abstraction of individual instances where thwarted ambition or 
disappointed cupidity pervert the judgment, there is scarcely a 
native from the Himalaya to Cape Comorin capable of forming 
an opinion who would not regard the success of the mutiny, and 
the abolition of the English supremacy, as the fiercest calamity 
which could visit the land. 

With all its horrors, too, the revolt has its profitable as well 
as its glorious and consoling features. Used aright, it may 
prove, like many other of the heavier dispensations of Providence, 
to be a blessing in disguise — a blessing terribly and gloomily 
disguised indeed, but still a blessing. The very atrocities that 
have been committed, too, have in one sense been of signal ser- 
vice to our cause. Not only have they, by intensifying the 
feelings, quadrupled the energies and« capabilities of our scanty 
forces (for even Englishmen would scarcely have marched and 
fought as they have done under an Indian July sun, had they 
been roused only by the excitements of ordinary war), but they 
have secured to us the sympathies of all Europe and of all hu- 
manity. A common mutiny, a revolt against our rule, our ex- 
pulsion firom India — ^nay, perhaps even a general massacre of the 
British population — ^would have been hailed by our many rivals 
and ill-wishers throughout the world with malignant, if with 
secret, joy. The competitors who envy us would have triumphed 
in our discomfiture; the enemies who hate and fear us would 
have rejoiced in our impoverishment and loss; and thousands, at 
home as well as abroad, would have been ready to proclaim that 
the catastrophe was a fitting retribution for our ancient sins, and 
a righteous overthrow of a violent and foreign domination. But 
the awful and horrible details of the insurrection have silenced 
all language, and, we believe, precluded all feelings of the sort. 
It has been too clearly shown that the question and the conflict 
are not between native and foreigner, between English and Hin- 
doo ; but between civilisation and barbarism, between the highest 
progress and the deepest retrogression, in a word, between the 
very principles and foundations of good and evil; — and there- 
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Principles of Indian Government. 5 

fore all that is decent^ all that is humane, all that is generous 
and hopeful in Europe and America have gone with us in the 

It may be questioned whether any catastrophe less fearful 
would have roused the English nation from its apathy respecting 
every thing Indian. Our strange indifference as a people to our . 
Eastern Empire^ our ignorance of the history and peculiarities of 
that magnificent dependency^ have long been our reproach^ and 
have excited the amazement of all intelligent foreigners. Indians 
and Indian subjects have been habitually voted bores. Indian 
statesmen and Indian generals have been despised. It has always 
been a matter of difficulty to " make a House^' on the occasion 
of an Indian debate. It is not too much to say^ that for three- 
quarters of a century — from the day when the dating and profit- 
able crimes of Warren Hastings and the gorgeous and fiery elo- 
quence of Burke for a brief period concentrated public interest on 
our Oriental possessions^ down to the arrival of the tidings of 
the massacre of Delhi — the smallest of our distant colonies^ and 
the paltriest of our party squabbles at home^ have more vividly 
riveted the attention and more thoroughly excited the interest 
of the great body of the nation than all the grand achievements 
and all the momentous concerns of the most magnificent of our 
dependencies. The press, the parliament^ and the people have 
been alike uninterested^ because alike ignorant. This can never 
be again. Our lethargy has been rudely but completely shaken 
off. Every one now is thinking, writing, learning, talking, about 
India, and about nothing else ; and by dint of discussion and 
study we shall in time come to understand it thoroughly. But 
probably nothing short of what has actually occurred would have 
sufficed to effect this transformation. If only a few regiments 
had mutinied, and a few officers been shot, we should have ap- 
plied some partial remedy, made some trivial change, and gone 
to sleep again. Faction would have seized the occasion to throw 
stones and mud, ignorance would have been ready with its clam- 
our, presumption would have been ready with its nostrums, and 
statesmanship — or what passes for such — ^would have been ready 
with its patches and its salves, its nibbling empiricism, and its 
lazy and cowardly and perilous postponements. We should have 
had no searching investigations, and no thoroi^h reforms. But 
now we have been shocked into seriousness, startled into depth, 
frightened into something like purity of patriotic sentiment. 
Faction, though not silent, is almost unheard; ignorance and 
vanity have assumed for once almost a listening and learning 
attitude ; and the petty and malignant passions that usually run 
rampant through our politics seem for the moment abashed and 
overawed. The gravity of the crisis, and the magnitude of the 
suffering, while they have swept away much of our prejudice and 

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6 Prin^iplwvf Indian Chvernmmt 

many of our vicious nirtioiiAl propensiities like cobwebs^ hftfo 
deared our visioQ^ and. intensified our intelligence^ and strung 
our nerves to a tone of unwonted resolution; and we are m a 
mood to go to the bottom of the question^ and to compel our 
rulers to a corresponding thoroughness of action. 

But this is not the only advantage of the position which the 
mutiny has forced upon us. The very extent of the catastrophe 
has made our path clear^ and our taiJL comparatively enssj. As 
facr as military reorgan^ation is concerned^ our statesmen in 
India have — whftt so rarely falls to the lot of statesmen— cor^ 
bhmehe, an.uneiicnmbered field. The Bengal army is gone — 
passed away into history^ with all its defects^ all its obligations^ 
all its claims.. It might have been very diflScult to reform it ; it 
will' be comparatively easy to reconstruct it. The moment the 
principle on which its reconstruction is to proceed has been deter- 
mined^ the moment we have satisfied ourselves as to those errors 
in its former constitution which rendered possible its late crimes 
aftd dissolution^ we are. as free to act as on the first day of our 
imperial existence ; there are no ruins to inter£ere with the new 
edifice we choose to build^ no embarrassing legacies of the past 
to hivmper or control our action. If we are not successful now^ 
if we do not create a new army perfect at all points^ adequate to 
our necessities^ and^ specially adapted to our circumstances^ we 
can plead no want of means or experience or golden opportunity 
in extenuation of our failura Never did rulers set to work with 
more unfettered hands. 

Again; this revolt, with its attendant circumstances, has 
added prodigiously to our knowledge of the conditions of the 
problem with which we have to deal. Even to those best and 
longest acquainted with India, it has come like a perfect apoca* 
lypse of the native character. It has poured a flood of unex- 
pected light into all the dark and loathsome recesses of that 
strange inscrutable compound of human elements. The pecu- 
liarities and inconsistent attributes it has brought to the sur&ce 
have astonished those most who had lived most familiarly with the 
Hindoos and Mahometans of Bengal and Central India. If we 
had philosophised or legislated before, we should have philoso- 
phised and legislated in the dark. Now, surely, we are ripe for 
approaching the whole of this great question* And what has 
passed will surely compel us-^we shall be very senseless and \esry 
guilty if it do not compel us — to study thoroughly and to deter- 
mine distinctly and deliberately the principles on which our 
entire government of Hindostan shall henceforth be conducted ; 
so that all our measures shall be consistent with each other, and 
convergent to one point ; and so that for once, and in one quarter 
of the globe, British policy shall be systematic, uniform, and per-^ 
sistent. We can no longer, without wilful foUy, act a little on 

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PrinciphBrcf Indian Govermnent. 7 

ooe plan and a little on another; hesitate between two o^)oeii^ 
themriesy and end by bonowing something from both^ or trying 
timidly and inefficiently each of them in turn; allow one gover* 
nor-general to upset or neutralise the proceedings of a prede- 
cessor^ perhaps his antipodes in opinion and temperament; in 
a woid^ leave one of the grandest empires ever intrusted to a 
nation at the mercy of that vacillating policy which is the in« 
variable result of half knowledge and half convictions. The 
most grave and anxious questions are before us; and we can 
neither evade them^ nor nibble at them, nor put them aside till' 
a more convenient season. We must now decide — and decide 
after searching inquiry and patient thought ; decide upon that 
thorough comprehension and consideration of the matter which 
allow of no retraced conclusions or repented steps — whether in 
fuittre India is to be governed as a colony or as a conquest ; whe> 
ther native agency is to be welcomed or to be excluded ; whether 
we are to rule our Asiatic subjects with strict and generous jus- 
tice, wisely and ben^cently, as their natural and indefeasible 
superiors, by virtue of our higher civilisation, our purer religion^ 
our sterner energies, our subtler intellect, our more creative 
faculties, olur more commanding and indomitable wiA ; or whe* 
ther, .as some counsel, we are to regard the Hindoos and Ma^ 
hometans as our equai fellow-citizsens, fit to be intrusted with 
the functions of self-government, ripe (or to be ripened) for 
British institutions, likely to appreciate the blessings of our rule^ 
and therefore to aid us in perpetuating it ; and, in a word, to be 
gradually prepared, as our own working-classes are preparing, 
for a full participation in the privileges of representative assem- 
blies, trial by jury, and all the other palladia of British liberty. 
We have to decide, moreover, what is perhaps the most diffici^ 
problem ever submitted to statesmen for practical solution, via- 
how to secure to the government of India that immunity fix)m 
the direct influence of parliamentary caprice and party conflict 
without which our noble empire would be jeopardised every hour, 
and yet to retain to Parliament that substantial control in ulti- 
mate resort which we may be sure the English people wUl never 
consent to surrender. 

In discussing these grave questions — which we shall do as 
concisely and compendiously as the subject will permit — ^we pur- 
pose to eschew all clouding and embarrassing details, and to deal 
only with the principles, political and religious, by which our 
future government of India should, in our judgment, be guided. 
We shfdl speak little of the history of the revolt ; indeed we shall 
dwell but little on any portion of the past ; and, if we can help 
it, we shall not preach or moralise at all. We shall not attempt, 
aa some have done, to connect our late calamities with our an- 
CMtnd sins, to make out the pedigree of Ood's judgments, to 

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8 Principles of Indian Government. 

trace out each hideous torture inflicted by savage animals on 
guiltless victims to its seminal unrighteousness in bygone days. 
To our minds there is scarcely more insane and insolent pre- 
sumption in handling the Divine thunderbolts as pious men are 
wont to do, than in thus dogmatically pronouncing on their 
meaning and their cause. That God does visit guilty nations, as 
guiltv individuals, with heavy and appropriate retribution, neither 
religion nor history will allow us to doubt. But we know also 
that He "seeth not as man seeth;^' and that in judging of the 
actions of men and states He employs weights and measures far 
other than those in use among the angry controversialists of 
our political arena. We know, too, that if there is one feature 
clearly deducible &om His deahngs with mankind, whether in- 
dividually or collectively, it is that His punishments are never 
arbitrary : they are consequences, legitimate, logical, inevitable 
results, flowing from crime in natural course, — ^not unconnected 
and artificially annexed inflictions ; effects ordained by nature, 
not sentences pronounced by a judge. But no such links can 
be made out in the present case. No man can accuse us of 
having brought this revolt and these massacres upon ourselves 
by cruelty or oppression. All charges of the kind Sre simply 
and notoriously false. Vfe may have sinned, but not against the 
sepoys. They at least had no wrongs to avenge. We may have 
be^n foolishly indulgent; we assuredly were never criminally 
harsh. We may have brought the catastrophe on ourselves by 
want of judgment ; certainly not by want of kindness or of 
justice. God^s dispensations, however grievous, are not always 
penal. Does the soldier who falls in the breach necessarily de- 
serve to die? Is the martyr who perishes at the stake suffering 
for his sins? No; both are agencies in God's hands in the 
cause of victory and progress. They by passion, as others by 
action, carry forward the great aims of Providence. Away, then, 
with all cant about God's judgments on our Indian oppressions. 
Even if we admitted the fact, we should deny its relevancy. In 
old times, we have no doubt committed many injustices, and 
been guilty of unwarrantable spoliations ; for which Heaven 
might righteously have chastised us, and for which man might 
fairly enough have taken vengeance. But those who have turned 
against us have been precisely those whom we had never injured, 
iid for long years our sincere desire has been to govern justly 
and beneficently. We have not done all we might; but we hi^ve 
done much, and have been honestly labouring to do more. The 
police is bad ; but it is better than it was under the native princes, 
and we are amending it by slow degrees. Torture and oppres- 
sion exist under our rule, it cannot be denied ; but it is only 
because we have not yet been able entirely to eradicate these 
ingrained native propensities. The evils and abuses that are 

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Principles of Indian Government 9 

still rampant are those we have not yet succeeded in suppressing. 
Our sins are those of omission and of oversight alone. 

We shall be reminded of our policy of annexation. We be- 
lieye our acts of annexation to have been sometimes hasty^ some- 
times injudicious^ sometimes^ in earlier days^ iniquitous. But the 
policy as a whole we conceive to be righteous and inevitable, — 
righteous because^ while usually most reluctant, still inevitable. 
From the day when the Great Mogul conferred upon us the first 
gift of territory and of government, the whole of our subsequent 
progress was a settled and irrevocable destiny. We could no more 
help absorbing the native dynasties and states than the Ameri- 
cans can help eating out the Bed Indians. We might have done 
it more slowly, more tenderly, more righteously ; but no reluct- 
ance on our part, and no resistance on theirs, could have pre- 
cluded, nor perhaps very long retarded, the certain and necessary 
issue. The Company have obstinately, almost fiercely, and for 
generations almost steadily, set their face against all extension of 
territory in Hiadostan. Govemor-general after governor-general 
has gone out resolved to have no more war, and to abstain from 
annexation. Statesmen after statesmen have deplored the grow- 
ing evil, and put forth solemn warnings of resulting danger. But 
the force of circumstances, the clearest obligations of rulers, have 
been too strong for any opposition. ProMbiting directors, coy 
and pacific governors-general, Cassandra statesmen, have all found ' 
themselves carried away by the current, and compelled to follow 
the same river to the same ocean. 

A few moments' reflection will explain this uniform result. 
Many causes contribute to it, and it is brought about in a variety 
of ways. Energetic settlers in a country rich in resources and 
fiill of promise naturally desire a small pied-d-terre whereon to 
erect factories, and forts to protect those factories against the 
attacks of hostile and capricious neighbours. They purchase 
some such small territory ; no one can blame them for so doing. 
They are surrounded by tribes and princes whose normal con- 
dition is that of warfare and reciprocal encroachment. The 
strangers have skill and science which render^ their assistance 
invaluable to any party whose cause they may espouse. One of 
the belligerents offers as the price of their aid some commercial 
advantages which it is very important for them to attain ; the 
other perhaps has shown them an unfriendly spirit, or done them 
some actual wrong. They give their assistance, and receive the 
promised price. In course of time, as they become more and 
more wealthy and influential, the native chiefs whom they have 
succoured grow jealous and uneasy, treacherously endeavour to 
resume what they have granted, or commit some act of atrocious 
and unpardonable barbmsm on the persons or property of the 
settlers. Of course this must be resisted and punished; of course 

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10 Pfindpies of Indian GovemmmU 

it is resisted successfolly ; punishment is enforeed, and the in«> 
demnity demanded often takes the form of a further grant of 
land. Necessitous princes b<»row, and are unable to pay : they 
give a mortgage on their lands ^ as defalcations accumulate, the 
m(»'tgage is foreclosed. Native sovereigns promise^ and do not 
perform ; when performance is exacted, a slice of territory is of- 
fered, and accepted, as a quittance. As soon as the intruders 
have become a Power, jealousies and enmities rise up on every 
side. Time after time they are treacherously assailed by sus- 
picious or avaricLDus neighbours : at length, weary of chastising 
them, they have no alternative but to disarm and weaken them 
by the confiscation of half their .domains. In justice to them- 
selves, these naturalised foreigners form alliances : allies soon be^ 
come dependents. Feeble states crave protection against powerful 
and aggressive rivals : protection is granted, in exchange for a 
consideration ; and this consideration is often paid in land. Some^ 
times the consideration is the inheritance itself in failure of direct 
issue : after a long term of years the territory lapses. The more 
powerftd we become, the more are we regarded with an evil 
eye ; we are liable to unprovoked assaults on all sides. We 
fight, we conquer, we make treaties: the treaties are broken; 
we are again assailed; as a measure of obvious and necessary 
security we seize a portion of the oflfender's dominions. He 
repeats the offence ; and we have no alternative but to absorb 
him altogether. We see preparations making for a formidable 
league against us : in self-defence we anticipate the blow, and 
break the league in pieces by the annihilation or impoverishment 
of its most dangerous members. By this time we find ourselves 
the paramount race in the country. Our well-governed terri- 
tories are surrounded by a set of the most viUanous and restless 
governments the world ever saw, which keep us in perpetual 
disturbance. We exhort them to amend their practices ; some 
promise, and are paid for promising: they break their promise; 
we insist on its performance ; and failing that, endeavour to per- 
form it for them. Many princes, sunk in effeminacy and profli- 
gate indulgence^ hating trouble, and caring only for sensuality 
and show, are glad enough to let us govern for them, securing 
to them a sufBcient stipend for their pleasures. And no one 
who knows the contrast between British and native rule will say 
that we ought not to accept the bargain, and assume the task. 
Other states, again, fall into such a condition of anarchy and 
desolation as to be a curse and a peril to all around them. After 
long forbearance and remonstrances, in justice to our own sub* 
jects we can tolerate the scene no longer : we pension the princes, 
and we save the people. This is a fair picture of our Indian 
progress for the last seventy years. We have obeyed an irre^* 
sistible influence, as relentless as a law of nature. From the 

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Principle* ofJndUm Govemmmi. 11 

moment ^e set foot on Indian soil, we had no altemative bnt 
either to be ignominioudy expelled^ or to become lords para- 
mount of the peninsula. 

Some writers haye been bold enough to ascribe the mutiny- 
to the annexation of Oude. ^e offer no opinion as to the 
cloaeBess> of the connection between the supposed cause and the 
alleged effect ; some connection no doubt there was. Consider- 
ing the peculiar constitution of the Bengal army^ and the large 
portion of it recruited from the Oude population^ the mode in 
which the annexation was carried out may have been incautious 
and unwise ; but that the annexation itself was a righteous, a 
neees8Mry> and a beneficent measure, we cannot question for a 
moment. We do not believe there can be two opinions on the 
matter among men who know what the government of Oude was, 
and what the government of the Company^s territories is. The 
persistent violation of a s(demn contract gave us a right ; the 
persistent violation of all laws human and divine made it our 
duty. J£ our calamities are really traceable to this annotation, 
we have been punished for our virtues, not for our sins. We 
are martyrs, not criminals. 

It wfil be seen from what we have written, that we have a 
clear and strong opinion as to the title by which we hold India. 
Some pages of that title»deed are soiled by fraud, some pages 
of it are stained by blood; but with all its faults and flaws, no 
other power can show one equal to it. In the earlier times of 
our residence, we were often selfish, grasping, and unscrupulous. 
Unhappily we hastened the possession of that which must have 
become ours in time by many questionable acts and by some 
unquestionable crimes. But after the period of Warren Has- 
tings a better spirit prevailed, and for more than half a century 
there have been few blots on our escutcheon, though many errors 
in our policy. We now hold India by virtue of our greater 
strength, our nobler ci^pacities, and our deeper sense of duty and 
responsibility. We hold it in trust for one hundred and fifty 
miUions of subjects, whose happiness we are bound to seek, 
whose enlightenment we are bound to foster, whose feelings we 
are bound to respect, whose prejudices even we are bound to 
outrage as little as we can consistently with the aims of good 
government and moral pr(^ess. So grand an empire and so 
grave a trust has seldom \^en committed to a free people — never, 
probably, since the Roman Republic reigned over half a world. 
It now remains to consider the principles on which, and the ma* 
chin»y by which, we are to govern India so as worthily to fulfil 
our high calling. 

In the first place, then, India is a Dependency, and not a 
Colony. It has nothing in common with the other portions 

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12 Principles of Indian Government 

of our colonial empire^ — with those vast islands and continents 
abounding in primeval forests and interminable prairies^ full of 
unoccupied laads and nearly empty of inhabitants^ scantily peo- 
pled, and peopled only by savages of small capacities and feeble 
frames, subsisting on the precarious produce of the chase, and 
incapable alike of resisting the progress or adopting the habits 
of civilisation. In these territories Englishmen have made their 
homes j they have gone out to reside as well as to subdue ; they 
have conquered the land rather than the inhabitants ; their wars 
have been with rude nature even more than with wild men. In 
process of time they have so multiplied, and been so replenished 
by firesh immigration from the mother country, as to constitute 
nations and societies actually composed of Englishmen, among 
whom the aboriginal inhabitants form a fraction insignificant 
in numbers as well as in importance. One after another, as this 
time arrived, these communities have claimed, and have had con- 
ceded to them as a right, all the powers and privileges of self- 
government : for the new colony had been created by them and 
peopled by them, had become their possession and their home, 
to whose fortimes they had linked their own hopes and affections 
for all coming time. 

But our settlement and position in Hindostan differs from 
this picture in every one of its features. India, so far from 
being scantily peopled, is densely peopled, and the inhabitants 
outnumber those of Britain in a five-fold ratio. It contains no 
waste land : every field has its owner and its occupier, in whose 
hands it has remained for generations and for centuries; every 
acre is cultivated, or has gone out of cultivation solely from bad 
government or bad agriculture. The natives of India, so far 
from being savages, or belonging to feeble tribes who can be 
trodden out or absorbed by the intruding race, are the subjects 
of a civilisation far older and more complicated than our own, — 
a civilisation which, though vicious and corrupt, is in the highest 
degree ingenious and elaborate, dates back before the birth of 
authentic history, and is deeply rooted in the habits and ideas of 
its' victims. Some of their races are powerful and warlike, and 
have more than once made us buy oinr victories dear, and even 
jeopardised our conquests. Many among them are wealthy, 
polished, intelligent, and even learned after the fashion of their 
tribe. In fact, our position in regard to them' is rather that of 
the Bomans towards the degenerate Greeks, or the Spaniards 
towards the primitive and noble civilisation of Mexico and Peru, 
than that of Britons towards the Bed Indians, the Hottentots, 
or the Papuan aborigines. FinaUy, no Englishman, whether 
merchant, planter, or oflS.cial, ever dreams of settling in India : 
. he could not do so ; his children cannot thrive there ; he him- 
self cannot live there in comfort : he merely goes to reside there 

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Principles of Indian Government. 18 

for a time^ to make his fortune or discharge his duties, and re- 
tire home after twenty years of labour with an income or a 
pension. It is, and must always be, to him a place of exile, not 
a home either for the present or the future. 

It is obvious, therdfore, at a glance, that the principles which 
now govern the colonial policy of Great Britain are wholly in- 
applicable here. We admit — and most wisely and righteously 
admit — the colonists to govern themselves and the country which 
they have turned from a desert into a garden, and in which they 
and their children look for an abiding inheritance, according to 
their own notions, and through the instrumentality of citizens 
chosen by themselves. But to transfer these British privileges and 
institutions to Hindostan, — ^to govern India by a governor and a 
legislative council elected by the scanty and scattered European 
residents, who should introduce their own language, their own 
laws, their own fancies and political desires, into the administra- 
tion which controls one hundred and fifty millions of an alien race, 
— ^would be to hand over that magnificent empire to an oligarchy 
almost without a parallel in history. Yet this is pretty much 
the demand of those chance residents in India who, in the late 
" Calcutta Petition,*^ have shown so much modesty in their re- 
quirements, and such a rare sense of propriety in the time se- 
lected for urging them. It is difficult to conceive what possible 
claim ten thousand European merchants and indigo-planters and 
jonmalists can have to govern, or to choose those who govern, 
a mighty and populous dependency, merely on the ground that 
they have gone thither for a time to buy sUk, to plant indigo, or 
« to edit newspapers, though they may Imow nothing of the com- 
plicated character and wants, and may care nothing about the 
enduring welfare, of the people whose management they would 
thus presumptuously assume. And assuredly it would not be 
easy to name a political crime or blunder equal in enormity to 
that of granting their preposterous demand. 

It is dear, then, that India cannot be left, as a colony of 
Englishmen, to govern itself. It is equally clear that we cannot 
— at present at least, nor for an indefinite period to come — go- 
vern it as a dependency through the medium of our dependents. 
It seems almost superfluous to add a word of elucidation on this 
head.' India is to us a conquered country. The completion of 
our conquest dafes only from yesterday. We are still surrounded 
by all the rankling hatreds of defeated cupidity and mortified am- 
bition. In every quarter of the land swarm foes whose plans of 
aggrandisement we have thwarted, whose crimes we have ptm- 
ished, whose oppressions we have prevented, whose marauding 
propensities we have put down. We are surrounded too by a 
vast and ignorant population, who cannot understand many of 
our excellences, and who mistrust and misinterpret many of our 

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14 Principles of Indian GavemmenL 

most teneficent andirisest schemes. We shock their prejudiees 
and alarm "their faith by erery action of our li^es. "Eke' Maho- 
metans are scandalised because ire eat the toidiean swine. The 
Hindoos are outraged because we eat the sacred cow. in the 
eyes of both we are infidels • and pa^ns^-^gifted with marvellous 
powers; but guilty of ine^Ue abominations. The mass of the 
people^ it is true, — ^the menshantff and the cultivators of thcsoil, 
— appreciate onriigidimd certain. and even-handed jtistice, and 
fakss the seeoittty with which they ean trade and sow and reap 
nnder^xmr* sway ; and numbers of those who come in contact 
-with ns-regaord ns *with sincere affection. But nnfortunately 
ithose who love and value us^-^those whom we have served and 
piotocted and rescued irom oppression^ — though the millions^ aare 
the ignorant^ the apathetic, and the powerless. Those whom we 
have controlled; those' whom we have cast down from the thrones 
and ministerial musnuds they had disgraced^ those whose victims 
we ha?ve rescued^ those whose career we have spoiled^ those whom 
ire hanre reduced to impotence and harmlessness^ — ^though the 
hxmdreds only^ are the able, the energetic^ the wealthy, and the 
feared. It is these through whom we must govern, if we govern 
through nalsve agency. 

But, in truth, committing tike government of India to the 
natives of India, even under our- superintendence, is ' at present 
a chimeva. It may 'oome some day; we h<^at'will. But it 
must come when Hindoos ha^e leamedto know us better than 
they do at present, and have become something very different 
from iiieir present selvesj — 'when those competent and honest 
natives whom we now point to as wonderful esoeptions shall 
have become numerous and common. What native nde is, every 
state in India has had bitter eKperience; some are experieocing 
it still. And no one who knows what it is will hesitate to affirm 
that, for mingled incapacity and iniquity, the wcHfst times in the 
worst governments of Italy and Spain can afford not only no 
parallel, but no conception. Eew crimes could equal that of 
replacing any portion of a country committed to our keej^g 
under the infliction of such an intolerable scourge. 

There remains, then, only the third alternative. India must 
be governed, as hitherto, as a dependency of our empire, by the 
instrumentality of a body of trained and permanent officiab sub- 
ject only to metropolitan control, — by a despotic bureaucracy, 
in fact, responsible to the free country whose ministers and de- 
legates they are. This system ought to supply one of the best 
governments conceivable. And here we are glad to be able to 
fortify our views by those of one of the most thoughtfrJ, com- 
petent, and sagacious of the writers whose works we have placed 
at the head of this article. Mr. Cameron, long resident in India, 
and holding there a high official position, says : 

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Principks- vf Indian Government 1 5 

'^Tbis faxBOus coasdtatioii [that of Qreat Britain] is wbollj unfit 
for the Indian naiicns, and I acknowledge that I Bhould think it tin* 
necessary for their welfare if it were much kss unfit for them than it 
is. My own opinion is, that the hest government for India» at least 
in her present conditioui is ■ a despotic goyemment ; and that the in- 
habitants of that country, European as well as Asiatic, should derive 
the assurance which they ought to possess against the abuse of power, 
not from any political privileges exercised by themselves, but first from 
the fact that none are adiAitted to the highest offices in the country but 
those who (whatever may be their origin) have received the moral and 
inteUectual training of British functionaries : secondly, from the fact 
that all the proce^ings of the Indian governments are submitted in 
detail to the criticism and correction of authorities in England : and 
lastiy, from the fact that those authorities are responsible to the Bri- 
tish Pai^ament In this way, as it seems to me, the advantages of 
despotic aad of oonstitutionid government are imited, while the dis- 
admat^^s of both are avoided in a remarkable degree. For an Anglo- 
Saxon population such a scheme would not perhaps be successful, how- 
ever good the. government resulting from it ; for that race seems to 
affect self-government even more than good government. But for the 
indigenous races of -India, the few Anglo-Saxons who go there to em- 
ploy capital and to return, aud the small colonies of Anglo-Saxons 
which will perhaps settle in the temperate climates of the hill-countries, 
I believe that such a scheme of administration is at the present time 
much the best that could be devised. I incline to think that such a 
scheme will always be the best : for it is no stationary system ; on the 
contrary /it is one which will go on continually reflecting all the suc- 
ceesive improvements of the constitutional and progressive system, 
from which its principles of administration are derived, and to which 
they most conform. 

The government of India is a government of British statesmen, 
who bsfve the same eduoatien as other British statesmen in political 
economy, jurisprudence, and the other sciences which minister to the 
art of government ; who are not habitually deflected from their proper 
course by any party cen^derations, nor hindered in their attempts at 
doing justice to all classes ; and who are in a position not only to feel 
with perfect impartiality, but to act with perfect impartiality, towards 
all the various interests for which they legislate" {Address to Parlia- 
ment, p. 41). 

The pe^e of India are. a special race, and require to be dealt 
with on a special system and by specially trained rulers. The 
ordinacry principles and {^ans on which we may safely and judi- 
ciously act in the management of Europeans wQl admit of only 
a very partial, limited^ and modified application in Hindostan. 
An Englishman of average capacity may be sent out to govern 
a colony of EngUshmen with little risk, because he has to deal 
with characters and institutions with which he is familiar^ and 
with which his sympathies are in unison. Common senae^ pro- 
per feelings conscientious diligence, and ordinary knowledge, will 

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16 Principles of Indian Government 

enable him to discharge his functions in a fair and creditable 
manner. But common sense and the ordinary education of an. 
Englishman would be as inadequate in the bureau of an Indian 
ruler as in the operating-room of a hospital or the laboratory of 
a chemist. It is eminently characteristic of our countrymen to 
wish to introduce England every where — to see evei^ where an 
embryo or a possible England — ^to believe that Enghsh motives 
will influence every people, that English .institutions can be en- 
grafted in every land, that English ideas have, or can be made 
to have, currency in every quarter of the globe. Now in no 
country are these characteristic notions and tendencies so com- 
pletely at fault, or so imminently dangerous, as in Hindostan. 
Europeans and Asiatics are fiill of moral and mental diversities 
— ^diversities which we believe to be indigenous, but which, whe- 
ther indigenous or not, have in the course of centuries, and by 
the operation of religion, climate, education, and hereditary habi- 
tudes, become now a second nature. The lion and the tiger 
scarcely — ^the sheep-dog and the spaniel certainly — do not differ 
more widely than the Oriental and the Occidental types of hu- 
manity. And of these discrepant races, the Englishman stands 
at one extreme of the European, and the Hindoo at the other 
extreme of the Asiatic. Greater contrasts — more deeply-in- 
grained contrasts — it would be difficult to conceive. They 
mutually represent aU the most opposite, irreconcilable, hostile 
elements in human nature. The one an hereditary bondsman ; 
the other, beyond all things, free. The one the very embodiment 
and symbol of stagnation ; the other the incarnation of inde- 
fatigable energy and restless progress. The life and civilisation 
of the Hindoo moulded in the relentless tyranny of immutable 
caste j that of the Englishman breathing the very idolatry of 
change. The one contented even in wretchedness; the other 
dissatisfied and impatient in the midst of luxury and joy. The 
one hemmed-in with ceremonies and prejudices, the victim and 
the slave of the most senseless fanaticism upon earth ; the other 
hating ceremony, despising all prejudices but his own, and too 
prone, in the pride of a pure religion and a splendid science, to 
trample on the fanaticism of aU aroimd him. Finally, the fla- 
grant faults and offensive peculiarities of the Briton redeemed 
by an imperious sense of duty ; the many amiable and engaging 
qualities of the Hindoo neutralised by a destitution of all notion 
of public morality, which to us seems absolutely appalliug and 

In truth, the character of our Indian subjects is a nice pro- 
blem to deal with, and a difficult matter to understand. At our 
peril we are bound to study and to fathom it. That the know- 
ledge of it possessed by the most experienced European residents 
has hitherto been imperfect, the late occurrences have painfully 

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Principles of Indian Government. 17 

shown. But we do not infer from these sad events that our 
countrymen were deceived in their estimate of the native cha- 
racter ; but simply that one element of it^ hitherto latent^ had 
escaped their penetration. We do not believe that the attach- 
ment and fidelity of the sepoys, in which all their oflScers without 
exception placed such confidence, was unreal or simulated ; but 
that qualities and passions co-existed with these feelings which 
had hitherto lain dormant, but which, when once excited, were 
powerful enough to override all others. We believe all that we 
have heard of their devotion to their officers, their respect for 
European ladies, their fondness for their masters' children. Till 
now, there had been ample justification for the confidence felt 
by English officers in the trustworthiness and bravery of their 
troops. Till now, there can be no doubt that unguarded ladies 
could and did travel throughout the length and breadth of India, 
attended or not by sepoys, without the fear or the risk of insult 
or neglect. Till now, the servants and the soldiers of our coun- 
trymen displayed and felt a tender attachment for the little white 
iuiants who played among them nearly equal to that of their 
own parents, and yet more demonstrative. All this was not put 
on : it was the genuine product of their ordinary nature ; and 
we were amply warranted in counting on it under all orcUnary 
circumstances. But two peculiarities in the native character 
seem to have escaped our observation : and it is no wonder that 
they did so. The first is their impressibility ^ the second their 
animal ferocity — ^both partaking of the features and reaching the 
excess of actual insanity. The child and the savage lie very 
deep at the foimdations of their being. The varnish of civilisa- 
tion is very thin, and is put off as promptly as a garment. Their 
utter ignorance prepared them to believe any absurdities ; their 
brutal superstition rendered them capable of enacting any hor- 
rors. Their religion and their caste form the assailable and ex- 
citable side of the Hindoo mind. There is nothing remarkable in 
this. People so incapable of reasoning, and so accessible to sti- 
mulus, could be easily persuaded, where appearances chanced to 
confirm the poisonous suggestions poured into their minds by 
emissaries from without, that we had hostile designs against their 
religion and their caste. This, too, was natural enough. But 
the point to which we desire to draw special attention, is the 
degree to which the spread of the mutiny and its more atrocious 
features partook of the character of an epidemic or contagious 
nervous disorder — a species of physical cerebral excitement. 
Viewed in any other light — or rather viewed apart from this 
pecuUarity — the whole movement seems unaccountably insane. 
It broke out at first not in undefended places, but where there 
were strong detachments of European troops. The excitement 
gained some regiments, and was on the point of exploding, when 


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. 18 . Principles of Indian Government. 

allagned by a few sagacious words or courageous acts by influen- 
tial Qonmides or resolute European officers. Others marched 
out against the mutmeers as sincerely as Ney against Napoleon^ 
but were as powerless to resist the mysterious and morbid sym- 
pathy. Others manfully resisted the contagion when their de* 
faction would have been safe to themselves and most formidable 
to us, but succumbed to the increasing excitement when fortune 
had dianged to our side, when there was every thing to discour- 
age a mutiny, when failure was certain, and terrible retribution 
oEvioo^y and immediately at hand. Others, again, when our 
ease seemed desperate, stood £Edthfally by our side, fought gal- 
lantiy against their rebellious comrades, destroyed their own 
ehances of suecessfdl mutiny, and then, with incomprehensible 
jEbUy, turned against us just as our victory was complete. They 
aeem to have '' lost their heads;" (to use a colloquial but expres- 
sive phrase) with the continuance of the excitement, as children 
and highly nervous people do at an orgie, or an execution, or a 
batde, or a scene of violence and peril of almost any kind. In 
future, tiien, we must take into our estimate of the Hindoo cha- 
racter, and our calculation of probable contingencies, this lia- 
bility to insane panics and imaccountable outbreaks of irrational 
excitement, — ^propagated like fire across a prairie. It will seldom 
arise without cause ; but the causes may often be trivial, un- 
traceable, and apparently wholly inadequate to the result. We 
must govern the Hindoos as a raee which, in addition to its nor- 
mal characteristics, has this very unpleasant one of being subject to 
accesses of epidemic mania, which may perhaps be guarded against 
CMT rendered harmless by judicious arrangements and imsleeping 
vigilance, but which, when they occur, set reason, habitual feeling, 
and the strongest and plainest self-interest, altogether at defiance. 
The second thing which we have learned is the tiger-like 
ferocity which lies dormant in the Hindoo diaracter, and which 
the periods of excitement of which we have just spoken will 
almost certainly develop into life. The hideous love of cruelty, 
of inflicting pain for the pleasure of beholding agony, of spend- 
ing actual intellectual efibrt in contriving unheard-of tortures, 
is a passion more than any other incomprehensible and abhor- 
rent to our minds. We have heard of something like it in the 
middle ages : individuals in history have at times appeared 
affected with similar morbid propensities to evU; superstition, 
mingled with malignant passion and fostered by absolute power, 
has brought some Europeans in former days to the very verge 
of this fiendish degradation. But all such cases have been re- 
garded as monstrous — the nightmare freaks of nature. Above 
all, we have been accustomed to consider them as altogether be- 
longing to the past, — dreadful and loathsome excrescences of 
times and stages of humanity long since and for ever passed 

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Principles of Indian Government. 19 

away. We have been rudely awakened from this ddusioo; — 
and perhaps it is one which we ought not sp tranquilly to have 
indulged. The taste for prolonged and gratuitous t<»rture has in 
many ages and countries been distinctive of Oriental peoples. In 
India we have many traces of it. Beligion there contributes to 
it. Human sacrifices prevailed there down to a very reoent date. 
The annals of native reigns abound in specimens of elaborate and 
ingenious inflictions. Torture of many kinds prevails there in 
certain districts habitually even now. The atcocities of Pelhi^ 
Jhansi^ and Cawnpore^ though they alternately make our blood 
boil with fury and run cold with horror^ were not f<Mreign to the 
character of their perpetrators. The people of India we believe 
to be^ not savage^ but mild in their normal moods. But the 
beatisd and ferocious element^ which in all likelihood entered « 
ori^nally into all human constitutions^ has not been with them 
eradicated by long centuries of civilisation^ but only covered over 
and put to sleep ; and excitement brings it forth^ as intoxication 
does that of the Malay. We believe, too, that this passion for 
shedding blood and inflicting agony is, like the excitement we 
have spoken of, in a great measure physical and morbid : the 
first sight or gratification of it arouses a frenzied thirst for 
moine, which is propagated like an epidemic madness. Self-con- 
trol is, as we all know, the special virtue of cultmre and training ; 
and the civilisation of the Hindoo, elaborate as it is, is not only 
eaaentially vicious, but is only skin-deep. In dealing with him, 
therefore, it is necessary to bear in mind that he is not altogether 
a rational being, governed by motives, and amenable to interest 
and reason, — but a creature of impulse, and still half a savage 
aaid more than half a child. Now untutored Englishmen can 
least of all men comprehend and manage characters of this sort. 

A third peculiarity of our Asiatic subjects, which especially 
perplexes and disgusts the average Englishman, is their profound 
ca;pwcitj for dissimulation. They have an at^lute genius for 
fedsdiood. No oaths secure their truth. Not only does their 
tongue utter the most flagrant and elaborate lie, but they know 
bow to sun-ound it with every colour of probability and con- 
finEaation ; and the imperturbable countenance, the ready smile, 
the regulated act, all are called in to aid in the deception. The 
most cautious and practised diplomatist, the most skilful and 
experienced judge, are often at fault; and nothing but long 
experience and special training can fit men to deal with such a 
viee at all. 

There is still another anomaly in the Indian national cha- 
racter, to which Englishmen, fresh from the mother country and 
aecustomed only to strong rude sense which they respect, and to 
. pvfQUifiiees and tastes which they understand even where they do 
not share them, find particular difficulty in accommodating them- 

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20 Principles of Indian Cfovemment. 

selves : we refer to the singular admixture of subtlety and foUj 
which pervades both the conversation and the conduct of the cul- 
tivated Hindoo. In no work on India that we have seen does this 
peculiarity come out so clearly as in Colonel Sleeman's amus- 
ing Rambles and Recollections of an Indian OfficiaL The accounts 
of his discussions and consultations with ministers^ princes^ and 
pundits^ are, in this point of view, exceedingly instructive. Few 
people display so much ingenuity and skill in argument; but 
the premises on which they argue indicate an ignorance and a 
credulity almost approaching to idiocy. The things they believe, 
and the things they assume, would disgrace the darkest and 
nakedest savages of AMca; but the dialectic shrewdness with 
which they will often handle these materials in controversy 
would chaUenge the admiration of the most finished intellect of 
Europe. Then, too, their beliefs, and what we may call their 
ecclesiastical ordinances, pervade and regulate every hour and 
every action of their daily life to a degree not paralleled by 
any other people; so that these consummately nonsensical pre- 
mises on which they reason so acutely are always and every 
where in operation. Thus the Englishman who goes out to per- 
form his part in the government of Hindostan finds himself at 
every step in collision with prejudices which he must despise, 
and yet is compelled to respect ; — which he is obliged to treat 
with deference and forbearance, because they are the inveterate 
prejudices of millions, to whom they are real as the air they 
breathe, and as sacred as the life they cherish ; and' yet which 
in his heart he must regard with a sort of abhorrent contempt, 
as the very incarnation and extreme of ludicrous and sometimes 
loathsome nonsense. Now here is a discipline which all who 
know the naturally narrow and intolerant character of the Bri- 
tish mind, will admit requires a very special preparation to attain. 
We are not originally or habitually, to say the least, tender or 
respective to alien folUes and to superstitions and fancies which 
are not our own; yet in India we are compelled to be so under 
peril of our empire. A body of competent and respectable English- 
men, such as shine in vestries and town-councils, and prose and 
vote with no contemptible success in Parliament, would set India 
in a blaze before they had administered its afiiurs for six weeks. 
Finally, India, both Hindoo and Mahometan, has its own 
peculiar codes, civil and criminal, by which it has governed for 
centuries; which are comprehended by its people, and blended 
and intertwisted with all the concerns of life; which it would be 
the height of tyranny to supersede by our own unsuitable and 
complicated forms ; and which require long and careful study to 
understand and to administer. If there were no other reason 
why India must be governed by a specially selected and elabo- 
rately trained body of officials^ this alone would suffice. 

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Principles of Indian Government. 21 

In no portion of our empire has British policy been remark- 
able for a umform and consistent character. Our national pecn- 
harities and our national institutions have both contributed to 
this negative result. In every thing — in politics more even than 
in most things — ^we are empiric, tentative, and unscientific. Our 
want of science and of system sends us too far into one extreme ; 
OUT practical good sense shows us our error, and drives us back 
in the opposite direction. As a nation, too, we are remarkable 
for a perilous mental defect : — we take up ideas in turn, and not 
in combination ; so that at one epoch we are governed by one 
set of notions and intent upon one set of objects, and at another 
we are on a wholly different tack. Neither have we, like some 
despotic nations, the advantage of being governed by statesmen 
of commanding minds, who arise from one class and bequeath 
their science to successors, — ^by Bichelieus, Sullys, and Ximenes. 
Our statesmen are the growth or the accident of Parliament, as 
Parliament is the varying product of a growing and oscillating 
popular opinion. A steady and unswerving policy, — a policy at 
once clear in its principles, unchanging in its ultimate purposes, 
and persistent in the means by which those purposes are worked 
out, — ^has ever been a desideratum to Great Britain, both at 
home and abroad. Yet a policy of this character is absolutely 
essential to us in dealing with, India. Without it we shall throw 
away our great advantages ; without it that anomalous empire 
wiQ be perpetually jeopardised; without it we shall lose the 
respect of that astute and observant people; without it there 
will occur interregna of vacillation which ambitious native princes 
may turn to terrible account. 

With such a policy — ^with ordinary skill superadded to our 
extraordinary energies — with average administrative sagacity, 
aided by the ample experience we have now acquired, — there is 
no reason, moral or material, why we should not retain our In- 
dian empire for all time. We believe that we are under a solemn 
obli^tion to retain it. No one can doubt that our sway, with all 
its acknowledged defects and all its unfinished excellences, is a 
blessing to the Hindostanees. It is not positively good perhaps, 
but it is the best they ever had. By activity in developing it, 
and wisdom in adapting it, it is in our power to render it better 
than the best they ever dreamed of The future of hundreds of 
millions — ^their material welfare, their moral progress— depend 
upon the continuance of our power, and upon the principles 
which shall henceforth govern our administration. No native 
princes ever did or ever can, in comparison with ourselves, either 
protect them from robbers, abstain from oppression, develop the 
resources of the soil, exonerate them from the nightmare of a 
filthy superstition, prepare them for a purer morality, or guide 

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23 Principles of Indian Government. 

them in a better way. On every principle of justice and philan- 
tbropy we are bound to stay where we are. 

^Nor is there any real difficulty in doing so, now that we are 
warned, now that we are compelled thoroughly to understand 
our position and deliberately to settle our proceedings. The 
reasons are well explained by Mr. Cameron : 

" I believe that no people ever existed on the face of the earth to 
whom the imperial rule of a foreign nation has been, as such, so little 
distasteful as it is to the iifhabitants of India. Among the Hindoos, 
and the aboriginal races who have imbibed Hindoo principles, the sys- 
tem of caste must have prevented the growth of that predilection which 
elsewhere commonly arises in men's minds in favour of a national go- 
wmment That singular system was calculated to engender a com- 
plete indifference in the subject multitude as to who might be exer- 
cifling over them the powers of government ; provided only that the 
persons placed in that position eonfined themselves within those limits 
which are recognised in the system itself. Every one intrusted the 
care of public affairs to the hereditary Chetrya, just as he intrusted the 
care of his beard to the hereditary barber. 

Probably when foreign conquest came, the subject castes, brought 
up in those principles, would not feel that any injury had been done 
to themselves ; though they might have admitted that the ruling caste 
had been injuriously thrust out, and had consequently just ground of 
complaint against the foreign conqueror. There is evidence as old as 
Strabo, and as recent as Colonel Sleeman, to prove that the cultivators 
<yf the soil, that is, the great mass of the Hindoo people, are, to say the 
least) more indifferent than the inhabitants of any other region, not aa 
to the manner in which, but as to the hands by which, the powers of 
government are exercised over them. According to Strabo, it fre- 
quently happened that the hereditary soldiers were drawn up in battle- 
airay, and engaged in actual conflict with the enemy, while the here- 
ditary husbandmen, whom the system confined entirely to their own 
S agricultural function, were securely ploughing and digging in the same 
ace and at the same time. It was no affur of theirs which body of 
betryas might gain the victory, and afterwards exercise the powers 
of government. Their business was to till the earth, and to pay the 
government share of the produce to those who might happen to be 

Colonel Sleeman, whose abilities, and whose opportunities of study- 
ing the native character, are well known to every one interested in the 
welfare of India, has the following passage : ' It is a singular fact, that 
tiie peasantry, and I may say the landed interest of the country gene- 
rally, have never been the friends of any existing government, have 
never considered their interests and that of their government the same, 
and consequently have never felt any desire for its success or its dura- 

The truth evidently is, that the governing caste, though bom in the 
same country as the men engaged in tilling the soil, have always been 
aliens in relation to them. I do not mean that the governing caste 

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Prmcqklea cf Indian GavemmenL 3S 

kiTe iilwa78 oppressed their subjects. I mean only that, as regards 
sjmpathy and the charities of life, they have been foreigners to the 
great mass of the people. A tme imperial govemmeDt, though foreign 
in blood, cannot be considered so foreign in feeling and interest to the 
races oyer whom its sway may extend -as the ruling caste of Hindoos 
was to the castes excluded from participation in the government. . . . 

The men to whom British dominion is really an object of dislike 
are the great men, who, supported by many followers, might have 
hoped, in the scramble for power which was going on when we esta- 
blished onr rule, and which would probably still be going on if we had 
not intervened, to have retained or acquired sovereignties of greater or 
less extent But these are men who have not any common purpose. 
Tbey may all wish to overthrow us, but for different and inconsistent 
objects. And even if they had a common purpose, their education atnd 
habits disable them from oombming together for the acoomplisfaittaiit 
of it. No one of them desires to be the vassal of any other of them. 
I believe that if every native of India who could dream of aspiring to 
tike sceptre of an Indian empire were asked who, next to himseU; he 
would consider most fit to exercise imperial power over the natives of 
the peninsula, he would answer, ' Queen Victoria,' if he knows there is 
a Queen Victoria ; if not, ' The East India Company.' 

It must not be forgotten either, that in India we govern, not one 
homogeneous nation, but a large assemblage of different [and hostile] 
nations. The Bengali race might, even in the highest stage of civilisa- 
tion, desiiie to be governed by a Bengali rather than by a British prince. 
The same may be said' of the Tamil, of the Mahratta, of the Hmdi, of 
ike Moguls and of the Seikh races. But there is not the shadow of a 
reason for. supposing ^at the Bengalis would wish to take the cbanee 
of an imperiid Seikh or Mogul government proving more disinterested 
and philanthropic than an imperial British government." 

It is probable too tbat^ as regards the safe and efficient 
eompoflition of onr native army, India affords ns facilities snch 
as no other country ever offered to its foreign conquerors ; fii- 
dlities of which the warnings aootd experience we have had will 
enable us to take full advantage. We have to deal, not with 
one united people, but with many uncongenial ones; with na- 
tions among which no combination can be more than tem- 
porary and superficial; with tribes, a large proportion of which 
are warlike, amenable to discipline, trained to military fidelity ; 
and, above 'all, with a variety of races differing from each 
other in religion, in caste, in origin, in habits, fall of mutually 
inimical traditions, and for generations accustomed to make 
war upon each other, to bum each other's villages, to ravage 
each other's fields. We have high-caste men, low-caste men, 
and men of no caste at all; Mahometans and Hindoos; Sikhs, 
Ghoorkas, and Mahrattas; in a word, we have such avast range 
of excellent and safe materials to choose among, that it seems a 
strange fatality indeed that has hitherto induced ns to compose 

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24 Principles of Indian Government. 

the chief portion of our Bengal army of men of one locality, of , 
one dan, and of one caste, — and that caste too the most trouble- 
some and dangerous of all. We think there can be no doubt 
that by a judicious selection from the rich materials ready to 
our hand, by never recruiting largely or exclusively from one 
district, by never permitting pleas of caste to interfere with obe- 
dience or military discipline, by declining the service of all high- 
caste men who will not submit to this condition, by retaining 
the artillery and the fortified places entirely in European hands, 
and by a variety of arrangements which practical sagacity will 
dictate, but on which we cannot venture to pronounce dogmati- 
cally, — such, probably, as reducing the amount of the regular 
force, and replacing it by an efficiently organised police, and 
modifying the system of promotion both among native and 
European officers, — ^we may succeed in reconstituting an Indian 
army which shall at once yield us better service, cause us less 
anxiety, and involve us in less expense, than that which has just 
broken to pieces in our hands. Of one thing we fed quite con- 
vinced,— and the terrible catastrophe we have witnessed has in 
no d^ree shaken our conviction, — a native army we must have. 
We shall need it as a measure of security, as well as for the 
sake of economy. Not only are native troops better adapted to 
the climate, and able to move more rapidly than Europeans ; not 
only are they far cheaper; not only does their employment en- 
able us to flaunt less offensively and incessantly in the faces of 
the Hindoos the fact of their subjection to a foreign conqueror ; 
but their enrolment is simply necessary in order to absorb those 
turbulent and adventurous spirits which abound in every land, 
but which absolutdy swarm in a country like India, where for 
centuries predatory warfare has been the life-long occupation of 
all the more enei^tic races."^ 

Our position in Hindostan, then, we consider to be one full 
of ample means, and golden opportunities, and rare facilities ; 
but in order to develop all these advantages as they deserve, that 
imiformity and persistency of poUtical action of which we have 
just spoken is espedally indispensable. It will not do jbo pro- 
ceed now upon the principle of maintaining, and now upon the 
prindple of absorbing, the native states ; now of encouraging, 
and now of eschewing, native agency ; now of humouring, and 
now of disregarding, the native prejudices. We must govern 
India by means of men who are not only trained to the art of 
government, but who are guided by fixed prindples, and devoted 
to steady aims. Now hitherto, although frt)m time to time our 
policy even in India has wavered and undergone many modi- 

* In Colonel Sleeman's work (ii. p. 83) will be found a striking ezempUficft- 
tion and confirmation of these remarks. 

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Principles of Indian Government. 25 

ficatioiis^ yet it has been more uniform and scientific there than 
in any other part of our empire. And that it has been so is 
owing to the feet that the government of India has been com- 
mitted to a body, a sort of self-elected, continuous, and very 
clannish corporation, wholly aloof from, and unaffected by, the 
politics of party and the British passions of the day. Till 1833, 
the East India Company had a direct pecuniary interest in the 
good management of the vast dependency committed to their 
chaige; and though since that date this motive for care and 
skill has been withdrawn, yet the old traditions have survived, 
and the same system has in the main been pursued. It is true, 
indeed, that the Board of Control has all along been the para- 
mount power, and has been able to force its own views and orders 
upon Leadenhall Street whenever a difference of opinion occurred. 
Yet two circumstances coalesced to centre the real administration 
in the hands of the directors. Practically the initiative of all 
measures rested with them, while the Board of Control in nine- 
teen cases out of twenty merely exercised a supervision and a 
veto; and again, the one board was to a great extent a continu- 
ous, homogeneous, and united body, while the heads at least of 
the other were perpetually changing with the party defeats or 
victories of the day, and were never the leading politicians on 
either side. But much inconvenience has resulted from this 
double government; many mistakes have been committed; much 
responsibility has been unrighteously and mischievously evaded; 
and now that India has become the prominent question of the 
day, it is certain that the old arrangement will no longer be 
suffered to continue. India must henceforth be governed by a 
ministerial department, like our other dependencies, and be 
brought under the more direct control of Parliament; and it 
camiot be denied that much imeasiness is felt at the prospect, 
and that this uneasiness is not without foundation.''^ 

It is imquestionably true that the constituencies of England, 
however competent to deal with English questions and to legis- 
late for English people, are at present deplorably disqualified for 
directing or inspiring the management of affairs in a peculiar 

* It would be unjust and ungracious to omit this opportunity of recording our 
conviction that the Company's government of India has not only been far superior 
to that of the mother country over any of her other dependencies, but that for a 
long period, and as a whole, it has been wise, righteous, and beneficent in a rare 
degree. Mr. Mill, one of the severest critics of that body, bears in his history 
the following striking testimony to its merits: ** I believe it will be found that the 
Company, during the period of their sovereignty, have done more in behalf of 
their subjects, have shown more good-will towards them, have shown less of a 
selfish attachment to mischievous powers lodged in their own hands, have displayed 
a more generous welcome to schemes of improvement, and are more willing to 
adopt improvements, not only than any other sovereign existing in the same 
period, but than all other sovereigns taken together on Uie face of the globe." 

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26 Principleu of Indian Government. 

dependency like Hindostan. They are doubly disqualified : by 
temperament and by ignorance ; and again^ by unconsciouBness of 
the perils of that temperament and the depth and range of that 
ignorance. It is true, likewise, that the narrow and pig-headed 
fanaticism of our middle classes would be fraught with terrible 
danger if brought to bear directly upon Indian politics. We may 
well tremble at the idea of an inflammable Hindoo and Mussul- 
man population of a hundred and fifty millions governed from 
the hustings and from Exeter Hall, — of the lives of our handful 
of countrymen, and the interests and feelings of our myriads 
of Oriental subjects, at the mercy of the varying caprices of 
the ten-pounders, or the obstinate and impatient bigotry of 
the saints. In imagination, no doubt, the prospect seems full 
enough of possible dangers : in practical result, howeva*, we 
may feel confident that most of these dangers will be wholly 
averted, or vastly mitigated, by Hie inconsistent and illogical good 
sense which rescues our nation firom the consequences of so many 
blunders. In the first place, India will now become a topic of 
national and parliamentary interest, whieh it has never been 
before. Indian debates will fill the House instead of emptying 
it. Every point connected with that wonderful penin^la will be 
discussed, studied, investigated, controverted. Election speeches 
will be fall of nothing else. The press will teem with articles, 
often brimming with ignorance and foUy ; often also, however, 
rich with thorough knowledge and matured experience. A whole 
session, in both Houses, will be devoted to this absorbing que9ti<m. 
Men's ideas will be gradually cleared; public opinion will become 
rapidly enlightened ; and in the course of a year or two a dis- 
tinct national policy will have been formed on all the main prin- 
ciples at issue. India will become, perhaps, to a certain extent 
a party subject; but the party differenoes will turn only on minor 
points. In the second place, die importance which Indian ques- 
tions will henceforth assume will insure that the President of the 
Board of Control — the Minister pob India,* that is, whatever 
may be his future title -^shall be selected from among the most 
able and eminent statesmen of his party ; not, as hitherto, from 
the most unmarked ones. This of itself will afford a vast secu- 
rity. Thirdly, the government of India having become both a 
cabinet and a parliamentary question, all important measures, 
especially if in the slightest degree involving a change of policy, 
will not be decided nearly as much as heretofore by the indi\ddual 

♦ "We have carefully avoided throfughont this article entering into anj detailed 
plans or suggestions; but it will deserve consideration whether this minister 
should not be assisted by a council of competent advisers of actual Indian expe- 
rience, and whether the new ministerial department should not be so organised 
as to include some of the ablest officials of the existing directorial board at 
lieadenhall Street. 

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Principles of Indian Government. 27 

fainister at the head of that department, hut will have to undergo 
the ordeal of much previous discussion ; so that even wilful and 
sdf-coTifident men like Lord Ellenborough will scarcely venture 
to indulge their idiosyncrasies of fancy or of temper as they might 
have done of yore. Moment^ of special peril, no doubt, may still 
arise when a change of ministry at home happens to synchronise 
with a critical position of diplomacy or war in India; but similar 
conjunctures occur in the case of our foreign relations ; and we 
must hope that the same respect for an inaugurated policy which 
withholds contradictory despatches in the one case, may preclude 
them also in the other. But, fourthly, one of our greatest se- 
curities will arise from the circumstance that, practically, hence- 
forth as hitherto, nearly all measures of actual administration, 
and most legislative measures also, will originate with the Exe- 
cutive Grovemment at Calcutta. Hasty proceedings, and more 
particularly hasty changes, will by this means be avoided. Prin- 
ciples will be decided at home ; suggestions even may go out 
from home; but nearly every thing done or proposed will be 
initiated in India, will undergo ftdl consideration by experienced 
politicians there, and will be referred home for approval and con- 
ftrmation, accompanied by all the arguments, for or against, 
which have been brought fotward at the local seat of govern- 
ment. Finally, — and on this safeguard we place great reliance, 
— ^there is an extraordinary reserve-fymA. of good sense both in 
the constituencies and in Parliament, which comes into operation 
oti all occasions of serious danger, and restrains even the most 
vehement politicians from persisting in extreme views. Few 
Englishmen, however positive, will push forward their plans or 
notions in the &ce of alarming warnings and national possibiH- 
lies of cviL "We are ready enough at times to play with a barrel 
of powder — scarcely with a magazine. 

"We must now turn fit)m questions of political administration 
to consider the principles which should guide our management of 
India in matters connected with religion and morality : and there 
can be no subject of graver or more critical importance. We, a 
handful of enlighten^ Europeans, live among, and are called to 
govern, millions of subjects whose religion is not only utterly at 
variance with our own, but is at the same time mixed up with 
their daily life to a degree recorded of no other people. Under 
these circumstances, toleration — always a dictate of justice and 
wisdom — becomes a dictate of prudence arid necessity likewise. 
But toleration, as it has its foundation in sound sense and soimd 
morality, has its limits marked out by them also. We must in 
2^ things so act as neither to insult the faith of our subjects nor 
to dishmiour our own. We must interfere with it only where it 

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28 Principles of Indian Government. 

cloaks or commands crime, or outrages fundamental morality, 
or offers an insuperable obstacle to the progress of necessary- 
civilisation. We cannot suffer infanticide to be practised, or 
human sacrifices to be offered, or electric telegraphs to be for- 
bidden or destroyed, in the name of any god, or in deference to 
the prejudices of any sect; but apart from sufch matters, we are 
bound to let every religion have perfect freedom of worship and 
of action. As to questions of decency, we must bear in mind 
that these are to a great extent conventional ; and that the ideas 
of purity and impurity are very different in the European and 
the Asiatic mind. As to questions of proselytism, our course 
seems very clear. We should allow full liberty of preaching 
to Brahmin, Mussulman, or Christian missionary ; but sternly 
refuse to employ or to permit the slightest exercise of influence, 
whether by favour or disfavour. 

And first, let us do full justice to the tenacious grasp which 
religious feelings, such as they are, hold over the native mind. 
Their faith shames ours. The creed of the Hindoos is a filthy and 
degrading superstition, indicating a low intelligence, breathing 
a low morality j but such as it is, they believe it, cling to it, and 
obey its ordinances, with an undoubting conviction and a simple 
devotion, which we, the pupils of a better teaching and the vo- 
taries of a nobler creed, may indeed envy, and should do well 
to imitate. If there had been any reason for questioning this, 
the whole details of the mutiny would sufl&ce to prove it. Of all 
the thousands of natives who have been shot, hung, or blown 
from guns, for their share in the revolt and its attendant crimes, 
not one has entertained the faintest shadow of a doubt that he 
was dying for (deen) his religion, and would go straight to para- 
dise : scarcely one has flinched, or prayed for mercy j all have 
believed that they were martyrs and certain of the martyr's 
crown. For fanaticism so genuine and so deep as theirs death 
has no terrors. Such fanaticism it is at once unsafe and fooUsh 
to provoke. It can be conquered by no violence, and can be 
undermined only by the slow process of indirect enlightenment. 
People in England find it hard to believe that the greased cart- 
ridge was really the immediate cause of the revolt. People in 
India know better. They are well aware that while ambition 
and intrigue are ever at work to arouse and turn to use the reli- 
gious excitability of the Hindoo, that excitability is a permanent 
and a most formidable reality. How such a wide-spread and 
sudden panic should have arisen from so slight a cause, the fol- 
lowing remarks by ^' Indophilus'^ may serve to explain : 

^' Hindooism and Mahometanism, especially the former, are religions 
not of rational conviction, but of meats and drinks and outward ob- 
servances. The rehgion of a Hindoo may therefore ' be taken away* 

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Principles of Indian Government. 29 

from him by force or craft, without any volmitary action on his part. 
There are large communities of Mahometans in India whose ancestors 
were Hindoos ; and if you inquire into their religious history, they tell 
you that Aurungzebe, or some other potentate, ' made them* Maho- 
metans. The process was a very simple one. Their Hindooism was 
' put off by Mahometans eating with them ; their Mahometan ism was put 
on by the symbol of admission to the faith which the Mahometans 
have in common with the Jews. Pouring cow's blood down the throat 
was reserved for special cases of recusancy. On the other hand, the 
unclean beast is the abomination of the Mahometans as of the Jews ; 
and the feeling is heightened by the associations of caste which th^ Ma- 
hometan minority in India have contracted from the Hindoo majority. 
To bite a cartridge greased with cow's or pig's fat was, therefore, more 
to Hindoos and Mahometans than eating pork to a Jew, spitting on 
the Host to a Boman Catholic^ or trampling on the Cross to a Pro- 

In saying that we must scrupulously abstain from outraging 
the religious or caste notions of the natives^ when not compelled 
to do so by paramount considerations of public morality or public 
safety^ we by no means wish to insinuate that we have been in 
the habit of offending in this manner. On the contrary, in 
former times we have erred in the opposite extreme. We have 
deferred too much and too degradingly to native superstitions. 
We have done dishonour to our own faith ; and, as might be an- 
ticipated, have gained no credit by so doing. Europeans very 
generally give to Asiatics the impression that they are an irre- 
Ugious race; and, compared with themselves, there is some truth 
in the belief. It is true that our religion, like our nature, is less 
demonstrative and more retiring — more sacred, and therefore 
more hidden — than that of Orientals, and that we have a great 
deal more Mth and feeling on these subjects than we care to 
show; but it must be admitted that, as a rule, our religion is 
both less pervading, less intense, less firmly held, less proudly 
and openly avowed, than that of Eastern nations. Now to an 
ordinary Asiatic, the apparent want of religion in his European 
masters excites both amazement and disgust. Of real liberality 
in such matters they have little comprehension; and the defer- 
ence which of yore we paid to their idolatry they interpreted into 
indifference to our own creed. It is important that in future our 
conduct should be such as systematically to correct this delusion. 
All unworthy compliances, all countenance to idolatrous cere- 
monies, should be (as, indeed, we believe they are) consistentiy 
avoided and forbidden. We should act as men who, while willing 
to respect and tolerate the religious convictions of a "weaker 
brother^' and a fellow-citizen of equal rights, yet feel the immea- 
surable superiority of our own assured belief. Thus only shall 

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30 Princi^le^ of Indian Government. 

we secure their respect to our character and our faith : — ^graYe 
4^&r^ice to their childish etiquettes^ offerings and concessions 
to their nasty shrines^ excite only contempt; they see through 
the hollow sham^ and despise the unmanly nonsense. * 

Then as to missionary efforts : it is a great mistake to fancy, 
that the natives of Hindostan^ especially the more intelligent 
among them, look with any dread or dislike upon our well-meanjt 
attempts at their conversion — ^using that word, in its proper and 
European sense, to signify change of conviction by argument 
and persuasion. What they fear is, not preaching, but govern- 
ment influence and force. Religious controversy they rather 
enjoy; they have a decided pleasure in gravelling the holy men 
who come out to instruct and convince them; they are amused 
at their impotent benevolence, and feel, or fancy, that they are 
more than a match for nine- tenths of the missionary body. If 
there were any doubt on this head, it would be removed by a 
very remarkable speech delivered by a cultivated Hindoo at a 
meeting of a native association at Calcutta, who, in commenting 
on Lord Ellenborough's attack upon the governor-general for 
having subscribed to missionary efforts, declared that, while they 
respected the missionaries much, they had not the slightest fear 
of them, nor objection to the utmost latitude of speech which 
could be given them, so long as Lord Canning in his official 
capacity lent them no sinister aid. It would be monstrous 
indeed, if, while we allowed the Mussulman and the Hindoo 
priest to preach, and convert, and proselytise at pleasure, we were 
to deny a similar right to the priest of our own rdigion. It 
could not be done; it ought not to be done; it need not be done. 
We have no idea that missionaries will do any harm in Indian; 
neither have we any idea that they will do much good. By 
exhibiting examples of a pure life, and by disseminating useful 
information around them, they may, indeed, be indirectly ser- 
viceable to the cause of morality and truth. But in the matter 
of conversion — i. e, of inducing the natives to abandon Hindoo- 
ism and embrace Christianity — we do not anticipate, nor, to say 
the truth, do we much desire, any very rapid result from their 
exertions. It is time to speak plainly on this subject. Nations 
may be spiritually and intellectually elevated out of heathenism 
and savage ignorant atheism; but in general only by the slowest 
and most circuitous process can one elaborate form of religion 
be substituted for another long established and rooted in all the 
popular feelings and traditions. Among a civilised people, thooe 
who are willing to exchange the faith of their forefathers for that 
of strangers are usually the very dregs of the population. This 
is notoriously the case in Hindostan. Those who by moral or 
intellectual reasoning and research become convinced of the enxnr 

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Principles of Indian Government. 31 

of their old rdigion^ and the intnnsic truth of that which is 
offered them instead, are at all times incalculably rare and few. 
Every thinker whose mind has sufficient philosophy in its com- 
position to understand how much of €t»mmption and hereditary 
innate prejudice lies at the root of all creeds, will be conscious 
that tins must be so. Then, again> — and this it is peculiariy im- 
portant to bear in mind, — every religion pajtakes to some extent 
of the character of the soil in whieh it is sown. It is pure or 
impure^ noble or degrading, an elevated faith or an aligect super- 
stition, just according to the najfeore of the men who adc^t or 
prc^Cess it. If by some strong act of force, or by some command 
from authority, or some esLtcsroal contrivance, the whole of Hin- 
dostan could be brought to declare itself Christian, and to be 
baptised, what would have been gained 1^ the nominal change? 
Would the native mind have been metamorphosed by the ter- 
givaiaation? Wherein would the new superstition AxSer from 
the old? The old ignorance, the old impurities, the old sense- 
less fiuoaticism, the old low morality, wouM still exist in the arti- 
ficial convert; and woidd be simply imported by him into his new 
creed, instead of being eradicated by it. Let .those who doubt 
this look at Europe and look at history. Christianity, we all 
feel, is a pure, a Ikoble, a mild, a rational, an elevatiiiig faith, 
^acceptaUe to the finest minds, fitted to raise man to the grandest 
he^hts. Is it such among all nations ? Has it been such at all 
times? In what nation and in what age do we find it such? 
All Europe is Christian : all Europe was Christian in the middle 
ages. Compare, then, the Christianity of England with the 
Christianity of Russia or of Spain. Compare the Christianity 
of Fenelon and Hooker wkh the Christianity of Cortez or of 
Bonner, of Philip or of Alva. Compare the Christianity of 
Wesley with the Christianity which expressed itself in the Mas- 
sacre of St. Bartholomew. No, it is useless to pour new wine 
into old bottles ; iiie bottles vdll burst, and the wine be spiUed. 
If you wish to plant in Hindostan any genuine Christianity, you 
must be content to prepare the soil by the painiul and judicious 
husbandry of gen^ations. It is only men of much egotism, or 
of little £aith, who are in a mischievous and ineffective hurry 
to propagate the Word. God has an eternity before Him for 
the accomplishment of His purposes ; they never fail, and are 
never imperfectly performed. We are hasty and impetuous, 
because we have only " this narrow sand and shoal of Time^^ 
whereon to work — because we want to see the harvest as well 
as to sow the seed — because too ofben, also, we are anxious to 
inscribe our names upon the mite which we cast into the trea- 
sury of the Most High. "La Providence (says Guizot) a ses 
aises dans le temps : elle ne s^inquiete pas de tirer aujourd'hui 

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82 Principles of Indian Government. 

la consequence du principe qu^elle a pos6 hier ; elle la tirera dans 
des siedes^ quand rheure sera venue ; mais pour raisonner lente- 
noient selon nous^ sa logique n'est pas moins sure/^ 

In this case^ as in most others^ the fairest and most righteoua 
mode of attaining our end is also the speediest^ the surest^ and 
the safest. We are bound to give to the inhabitants of India 
the best education, direct and indirect^ that circumstances per- 
mit^ and that their nature will enable ihem to receive. We are 
bound, so far as may be, to make them participators in our 
knowledge, to open to them the sciences and discoveries of Eu- 
rope, and, in the way of ascertained facts, to teach them no 
error, and as much truth as we can. In a word, we are bound to 
extend and improve the secular instruction of all classes among 
them. We have accepted this responsibility, and prepared to 
act upon it. We have established universities at the tluree pre- 
sidencies, where the English language and English sciences are 
taught; and we have established schools and inspectors of schools . 
all over our dominions. The system as yet is new, and of course 
partial and imperfect; but its operation is steadily extending, 
and will soon bear firuit. The Hindoo systems of religion and of 
caste are so blended with error and ignorance on physical mat- 
ters, that a purely scientific and secular education is the most 
formidable enemy we can send into the 'field against them. In 
Lower Bengal it has already proved so. By the time we have 
fairly imbued two generations of Hindoos with sound notions of 
geography, astronomy, and chemistry; when for a few vears we 
have explained to them the operation of the electric telegraph ; 
when for half a century we have rattled them across the country 
on the railway at the rate of thirty miles an hour, and shaken 
Brahmin and Pariah together in the same car, — ^we shall have 
effectually undermined the foundations of their own creed, and 
produced that intermediate period of scepticism which is often, 
though not always, the necessary step towards the introduction 
of a purer faith. Throughout a considerable portion of Lower 
Bengal, by the instrumentality of our schools and intercourse 
with us, this stage has been produced already. All that is am- 
bitious and sacerdotal among the higher class of natives sees this 
menacing result, and will move heaven and earth to hinder it. 
But if we simply persevere, abstain from the slightest attack on, 
or disrespect towards, their beliefs, but continue quietly to teach 
those dry scientific facts with which their beliefs cannot co-exist, 
we shall have secured at no distant day an object really worth a 
struggle — the formation, that is, of a national intellect, in which 
a pure and not a superstitious, a genuine and not a nominal, a 
deep and not a superficial, Christianity can more easily take root 
and flourish. 

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Principles of Indian Government. 83 

Two questions of considerable difficulty remain^ on neither 
of which GO we feel disposed to dogmatise^ — the question of na- 
tive and European equality before the law; and the question of 
the employment of native agency in the more important func- 
tions of administration. 

On the first of these topics there is a good deal to be said on 
both sidea As long as no Englishman appeared or resided in 
India^ except the civil and military employh of the Company^ it 
was possible and reasonable enough to treat them all as belong- 
ing to the dominant race, and entitled to special privileges and 
exemptions. They were all in fact rulers ; and as such, could 
with no propriety be subjected to the jurisdiction of, or even 
placed on a mere level with, the ruled. In the circumstance too, 
that they were all the agents and servants of the sovereign 
authority, could be found a certain security against the abuse 
of this peculiar and privileged position. They were at any time 
liable to dismissal and punishment for any misconduct or oppres- 
sion. But when the exclusive rights of the East India Company 
were broken down ; when thousands of Europeans flocked to In- 
dia for the sole purpose of making money by industry or com- 
merce; when many of these were adventurers of low habits and 
violent tempers and scandalous pretensions, over whom the au- 
thorities retained no summary or despotic power, — it is evident 
that to exempt such men from the jurisdiction of the native 
courts, or from enforced compliance with native rights and cus- 
toms (where British courts of justice are so few and far between), 
would have been to issue to them a letter of license for unlimited 
iniquity and oppression. They were voluntary visitors or set- 
tlers, and as such, could not complain of being subject to the 
conditions of the community to which they went. Moreover, 
their numbers have been always small. The entire number of 
planters, merchants, settlers, and unofficial Europeans of all 
classes, does not exceed ten thousand in the whole of India. On 
the other hand, there can be no doubt that in a country where 
our safety depends so entirely on our moral influence — on the 
impression fixed in the native* mind of the inherent superiority 
of the European race — ^it would have been most desirable, had it 
been possible, to uphold this superiority, and rivet this impres- 
sion, by abstaining from ever placing an Englishman in any cir- 
cumstance or manner under a Hindoo. But we apprehend that 
the practicability of maintaining this rule with any decency or 
justice was destroyed when free emigration to Hindostan was 
first permitted. The mistake, if it be one, was made in 1833. 
It is natural also, though perhaps not very reasonable, that the 
independent European residents in the interior should be angry 
at the privileges conceded, in deference to their religion, caste 

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34 Principles of Indian Government. 

notions, and hereditary rank, to certain native families and 
classes,* — privileges which, as Englishmen, they do not share 
simply because they have not the smallest traditional claim to 
them. Finally, we can largely sympathise with the indignation 
of English residents and merchants at finding themselves com- 
pelled to plead in civil matters before native judges, who often 
really do hate them and wish to drive them out of the country, 
and who are always supposed to do so ; and in courts where it is 
notorious (and must be avowed with grief) that no justice can be 
obtained except by the most extensive and systematic bribery, 
applied to judges, officers, and witnesses alike. And we can well 
understand that the tendency of this system will be to discourage 
the better and more high-minded class of men from establishing 
themselves in India, and to confine the residents and planters 
to a more reckless and unscrupulous set, who will combat the 
natives with native weapons, and do much to degrade and dis- 
honour the EngUsh character in native estimation. Still, we 
confess, we do not at present see our way out of the dilemma. 

The other question, — as to the employment of native agency^ 
in influential and responsible departments, — seems to be very 
much one of degree, experience, and time. It is one in which 
the actual administration of the hour must feel its way. Few 
thoughtful or competent men will be inclined to lay down any 
fixed or general rules upon the subject The Hindoo character, 
with some excellent qualities and capabilities, possesses also 
many deplorable and deeply-rooted defects. A better or more 
careful estimate of both cannot be found any where than that 
given by Elphinstone in the eleventh chapter of his History ; 
and his description applies, though not in an equal degree, to 
those natives who retain their old faith and caste, as well as to 
those who have been converted to the purer creed of Mahomet 
They are usually amiable when their fierce or fanatical passions 
are not aroused ; they have strong and tenacious family afiec- 
tions, are capable of much tenderness, and are susceptible to 
kindness ; and though indolent and timid, prefer death to what 
they deem dishonour; and, when inevitable, will encounter it 
with a calm and unostentatious stoicism worthy of all admira- 
tion. These are noble qualities, of which it would seem much 
might be made. But a vicious religion and a wretched educa- 
tion have perverted and nearly neutralised them all. Their no- 
tions of dishonour are strangely puerile and conventional 3 their 
entire morality is low and worldly; they have little regard for 
justice, and no regard for truth; in all judicial matters they are 

* Some native families of rank are exempted from appearing personally in 
court, because such appearance, according to their caste notions, would be fla- 
grantly dishonouring. 

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Principles of Indian Government. 35 

false, rapacious, and corrupt, to an almost incredible degree; 
and they seem utterly devoid of consideration for the rights of 
inferiors and of a sense of public duty. Even Mr. Cameron, 
who goes further than any other writer in his estimate of what 
the people may become, and ought to be made, says : 

'^The judges of all grades should be indiscriminately European and 
native ; but this is a state of things which can only be approached by 
degrees, and by means of the highest education. I am uot at all sure 
that we have not gone too far in the official employment of natives 
without preparing them by European training. . . . My anxiety for the 
improvement of the natives of India does not blind me to the marked 
distinctions which exist between them in their present moral condition 
and their European governors ; and I think it highly important that 
such distinctions should not be neglected in constructing institutions 
for our Eastern possessions. I would not, for example, trust a native 
with power over his countrymen in any case in which pecuniary con- 
siderations do not prevent the employment of a European. Their 
general contempt for the rights of inferiors, and the abominable spirit 
of caste, render them very unsafe depositaries of such a trust." 

We have, we confess, a very strong conviction of the utter 
unfitness of the native Hindoos at present for any of the higher 
functions of administration ; and we wish it were possible to 
supersede them more completely than we have done. That in 
the course of time, and by sedulous care in their education, they 
may become fit to assist us in governing their country, we hope 
and believe ; bat such is their actual inferiority (moral rather than 
intellectual) that we can only retain this hope and faith by con- 
stant comparison of Englishmen now with their ancestors in the 
dark ages. That our most energetic exertions should be directed 
towards preparing the natives for higher and more responsible 
positions than they can at present occupy with safety, does not, 
we think, admit of a doubt. Nor do we fear that the permanence 
of our Indian empire will be endangered thereby. Long before 
native agency can be so widely employed as to be dangerous, the 
native character must have been so far modified as to render it 
secure. By that time the blessings of our rule will have become 
so widely seen and so folly established, that no native intelligent 
enough to be employed by us will wish to overthrow us. But 
we think it should be our rule, only to advance to places of au- 
thority and influence such of the Hindoos as have received a 
European education, have imbibed European notions of morality, 
have lived enough among Europeans to have become impregnated 
with that sense of public duty without which no man can be fit 
to govern others, — such, in a word, as without having been 
thrown altogether out of harmony with their countrymen, shall 
have become qualified to guide and to control them. Even now 

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86 PrindpUi of Indian Government. 

the ablest^ purest^ wealthiest^ and most sagacious of the Hindoos 
are conscious that the overthrow of our rule would not only be 
their ruin^ but would be the greatest conceivable misfortune that 
could befall their country. It rests with ourselves so to act, that 
all whom we in time have trained to aid us, — all, in a word, 
whose character, under any rSgime^ would mark them out for 
influence and sway, — shall entertain the same conviction. By 
" time,^' however, we mean not a few years only, but more pro- 
bably a few generations. National peculiarities are not speedily 
e&ced ; nor are national vices to be eradicated by any summary 
process. Meanwhile we recommend to our readers the following 
wise suggestions : 

" It %8 no wish of mine to direct the ambition of the naUvea soJdy to 
official distinction; but you cannot exclude men from administering 
the affairs of their own coimtry without stigmatising and discouraging 
theuL In addressing the students of these universities eight years ago, 
I said to them, ' Do not imagine that the sole or the main use of a 
liberal education is to fit yourselves for the public service ; or rather, 
do not imagine that the public can only be served by the performance 
of duties in the ojfices of government.' I am quite ready to repeat 
that admonition. I strongly desire to see the native youth distinguish 
themselves in all honourable ways ; but I more strongly desire that 
our colleges should send forth zemindars capable of improving their 
own estates and the condition of their ryots ; natural philosophers 
capable of collecting and utilising the vast store of undiscovered facts 
contained in the soil, climate, and productions of their country ; moral 
philosophers capable of studying the peculiarities of the Indian races, 
and of directing them, by eloquent exhortation, to virtue and happi« 
ness, than that these colleges should be nurses of eminent judges and 
collectors*' {Cameron^a Address, p. 153). 

We have left ourselves no space for lengthened comment on 
any of the works whose titles we have plac^ at the head of this 
article. Nor is it, perhaps, necessary. We may say, however, 
that no one can carefully study all those works without attaining 
a very fair acquaintance with Indian interests and the Indian 
character. The able and judicious pamphlet of Mr. Cameron 
we have referred to more than once in the course of our remarks. 
The Letters of Indophilus are believed to proceed from a gentle- 
man who once held a responsible position in India, and uqw fills 
one still more important in this country, and they display an 
unusual intimacy with the whole subject The Despatch on 
Education gives a full account of the new plans pursued in India, 
and inaugurated, we believe, by Sir Charles Wood while at the 
Board of Control. Col. Sleeman^s book is full of entertainment, 
and throws a flood of light on Indian character and manners. He 
was political resident at Lucknow before Sir Henry Lawrence. 
Mr. Pratt^s papers are sagacious and valuable; they convey the 

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George Sand. 87 

deliberate conclusions of a man whose acquaintance with India 
is not only thorough, but of recent date^ and will serve to disperse 
many errors and illusions. The book of M. de Yalbezen is written 
in an excellent spirit^ and abounds in succinct information ; and 
is particularly valuable as containing the estimates and views of 
an intelligent and competent foreigner. 


Wstaire de ma Yle, Par George Sand. PariS; 1855. 
OSuvres de George Sand. Paris, 1857. 

Few travellers can have crossed the Channel on a fine day, and 
have reached the point where the coasts of both countries are 
visible at once, without reflecting how wide and vast are the 
moral and intellectual differences which separate lands divided 
by a material barrier so narrow. It is not onlv that race, reli- 
gion, language, history, are all different^ — ^for this we should, of 
course, be prepared ; but the whole tone and tuni of thought is 
dissimilar; and whatever efforts are made to attain a superficial 
harmony, however familiar we become with the languages and 
literatures of the Continent, we are always separated from the 
continental nations. Englishmen take much greater pains to 
understand the manners, traditions, language, and writings of 
the leading nations beyond the Channel than are expended by 
the inhabitants of those countries in gaining an acquaintance 
with us, or with each other. And yet we never cease to seem to 
them insular. We cannot judge by their standard, or feel with 
their feelings. There are whole portions of thought in which 
our minds run in an entirely distinct channel More especially 
with regard t^ those two cardinal points of human society, re- 
ligion and the relations of the sexes, we seem to think with an 
irreconcilable difference— our right is not their right,' nor their 
wrong our wrong. They reproach us as much as we reproach 
them. We talk as if the whole of French fiction was a vast 
mass of corruption ; they shrink from the iron conventionalism 
of English society, and the coarseness of our public immorality. 
What we call license, they think the honest obedience to a 
divine passion. What we consider delicacy of language, they 
consider the affectation of prudery. 

Such a difference pervades national life far too deeply and 
widely to be referred to any one cause, or reduced under any 
one head ; but we seem, at any rate, to present it to ourselves 
in a distinct shape when we observe how much greater the 
influence of society is in England than in France or Germany. 

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38 George Sand. 

An Englishman has his place -in family life, in a locality, in a 
political system. When he speculates, he never suffers himself 
to leave the limits of the social sphere. He is content to accept 
the results of experience, by the acceptance of which practical 
statesmanship is made possible in a free country. He refers all 
propositions to the standard of what English institutions will 
admit. His notions of love and marriage are subordinated to 
his conception of the exigencies of family life. He wants a re- 
ligion that will practically work, which real bishops can expound 
to real public meetings, which will suit the man who desires to 
be left alone in the bosom of his family, and yet join with his 
neighbours in occasions of sacred solemnity. But on the Con- 
tinent there is a large number of persons, especially among 
those eminent in literature, of whom we may say that each 
individual seems left to himself The first principles of every 
thing are debatable ground to him. He receives aid neither 
from State nor Church. All that he has to do is to shape his own 
particular career by reason, by sympathies, by submitting to the 
teaching of events, by trusting to the protection of that vaguest 
of deities, le ban Dieu. We cannot abandon our own position, 
or admit for an instant that things which we fully believe are 
morally wrong in themselves cease to be wrong because fo- 
reigners choose to make light of them. But if we wish to com- 
prehend rather than to condemn, our best road is, by the exer- 
cise of what imagination we possess, to throw ourselves into the 
position assumed by those whom we are criticising, and divest- 
ing ourselves of every thing in society and established institu- 
tions which shackles or assists us, look on human life with the 
eyes of a man who has nothing to trust to but the play of his 
own feelings, the whispers of his own conscience, and the dic- 
tates of his own reason. 

It is not easy to do this ; and after our most honest efforts 
to understand them, French novels, the most characteristic ex- 
pression of what we refer to, will remain very different com- 
positions from any that ^e can fancy ourselves or any of our 
countrymen to have written. And no writer is at once more 
typical and more incomprehensible than George Sand. To all 
the difficulties implied in the fact that she is a French writer 
of the nineteenth century, we must add those implied in the 
fact that she is a woman, and what is more, a woman with a 
philosophical turn of mind. We have no English writer at all re- 
sembling her; but we know enough of philosophical ladies gene- 
rally, to be aware that it requires considerable nicety of percep- 
tion to distinguish the exact point on which they are speaking, 
and the precise object which they have in view. Sometimes, 
in reading George Sand^ we might fancy that she had shaped 

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George Sand. 39 

out a definite system of life and morals for herself, sufficiently 
ascertained to command her own belief and to become the topic 
of persuasion to others. Sometimes it seems as if she must be 
writing for mere writing's sake, meaning nothing, believing no- 
thing, wishing nothing. As a general result, we see that she is 
possessed with one or two leading ideas. She thinks the world of 
modem society decidedly wrong on at least two distinct points. 
Her opinion is clear against the conventional system of marriages, 
and the established relations of the rich and poor. But when we 
ask with what she wishes to replace them, we are at sea ; we are 
lost in the beautiful but obscure language of feminine philosophy. 
But a person may be vague in thought and language, and 
yet have a great deal to say, and exercise a great influence 
by saying it. Every century has stirring within its breast a 
number of feelings dimly felt, of aspirations imperfectly under- 
stood, of desires faintly expressed. It is possible that a writer 
may acquire a great power by giving utterance to these first 
flutterings of l^ought and hope, and may be all the more 
successful because the utterance has an appropriate feeble- 
ness and indistinctness. There is a wide and very vague 
feeling afloat in the present day that some classes, though it 
is not known exactly which, have not the fair chance in the 
world that they ought to have. There is a sort of readiness 
to take up the cause of sinners, a distrust of respectability, 
a recoil from the worship of success. Something large and 
noble seems within the grasp of mortals, if their fellow-men 
did not step in the way. It is difficult to say that either 
women or the poor find this the best of all possible worlds. 
In England, when such a thought arises, we test it by the 
standard of social institutions. We think whether society 
does not demand a subordination of sex and rank, and strive 
to hit on the principles by which this subordination should 
be regulated and modified. But in a country where problems 
of thought and morals exist for the individual rather than for 
society, it is natural to give vent to the sense of injustice with- 
out any calculations of expediency, and to believe that there 
is in man at large that power of quick and radical change 
which the individual fancies he can recognise in himself. 
George Sand is one of the prophets who take up this parable, 
and she has a large number of votaries to sympathise with her. 
To this, her primary attraction, she adds others of a se- 
condary but powerful nature. She has a true and a wide ap- 
preciation of beauty, a constant command of rich and glow- 
ing language, and a considerable faculty of self-analysis and 
self-reflection. And no one could possess more completely 
the charm of unreserve. What she thinks she says, without 

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40 George Sand. 

hesitation or subterfuge. She is undeterred by any regard 
for the proprieties of her station or her sex. She thus creates 
an impression of truthfulness which makes us ready to defend 
her against the numberless attacks of criticism to which she 
exposes herself In spite of all her defects, she awakens an 
admiration which cannot be reasoned away. Her novels are 
often unmeaning, false to the realities of Ufe, weak in plot, 
deficient in artistic arrangement, dismally long, tedious, and 
wearisome to get through; but still they are never poor. 
They suggest many new thoughts. They are lit up with the 
glow of genuine feeling. They are stamped with the impress 
of an indisputable honesty. Such a woman is worth studying, 
even at the risk of some shock to our moral feeling and our 
insular prejudices, and under the penalty of some weary hours 
spent in wading through her rhapsodies. 

She has written her life in twenty volumes, and the mere 
fact that she has done so is characteristic. What has a 
woman who has done little more than live in a country* 
house in Berry, write novels, and quarrel with her husband, 
to say, that she must take twenty octavo volumes to express 
it? The volumes are made up of comments, paradoxes, long 
evolutions of feeling, digressions religious, jphilosophica^ and 
historical, criticisms of men and books, and descriptions of 
scenery.. She goes off for twenty pages on the most insi^^ 
nificant and irrelevant subject, and then informs us that it 
is her way. And yet if we wish to know what George Sand 
is like, what she thinks, and what she means, we cannot 
refuse to read so instructive a guide as her autobiography. 
There is a very visible connection between her writings and 
her personal history, and we will therefore attempt a sketch 
of what she tells us of herself in this formidable memoir. We 
must, however, confine ourselves to noticing those portions of 
the work which throw most light on the novels which have 
made her name so widely known. She insists so strongly on 
the influence which the history of her parents and paternal 
grandmother had on her, that we will briefly trace its outline; 
but otherwise we cannot enter on the innumerable details of 
her childhood and youth which she has thought it expedient 
to reveal to the public and to sell to her publisher. 

Madame Dudevant traces her parentage by the fathers 
side up to royalty. The famous Marshal de Saxe was her 
great-grandfather; and he was the offspring of Frederic Au- 
gustus king of Poland, by the Countess of Eoenigsmark. It 
is not, as Madame Dudevant modestly acknowledges, any 
very distinguished honour to be numbered among the de- 
scendants of this sovereign ; for he had several hundred ille- 

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George Sand. 41 

^itimato children. None, howeyer, of his bastards was so 
famous as the Marshal de Saxe ; and Madame Dudevant dis- 
plays some pride in claiming that coarse but able general 
as her forefatner. The marshal had an intrigue with a lady 
of the opera, Mademoiselle Yerrieres ; and a daughter was the 
result of the union. When Aurore de Saxe, as the daughter 
was called, came to years of discretion, she was married to 
the Count of Horn. But her husband was soon killed in a 
duel; and some years afterwards she was again married to M. 
Dupin de FrancueiL This lady, having been twice legally and 
honourably married, forms a marked exception to the general 
standard of Madame Dudevant's ancestors, who were mostly 
accustomed to illicit connections. By M. Dupin «he had a son, 
Maurice Dupin ; and Maurice was the father of George Sand. 

M. Dupin de Francueil was an elderly man when he married, 
and for nme years he had no child ; at last, when he was up* 
wards of seventy, he was presented by his wife with a son. But 
he did not do much more than welcome his son into the world ; 
for he died a year after Maurice was bom. His widow found 
herself in circumstances of comparative poverty ; for although 
she had a handsome maintenance, yet she was obliged greatly 
to retrench the extravagant establishment of her husband. She 
lived quietly for many vears, partly at Paris, and partly in the 
country, devoting herself to the maternal duties of spoiling her 
boy and superintending his education. He was placed under 
the tutelage of a M. Frangois Deschartres; an amiable scientific 
pedant, who occupies henceforth a very prominent place for 
many years in the family history. The quiet of uie little 
party was at last rudely shaken by the Revolution of 1789. 
Madame Dupin, however, who was a warm admirer of Vol- 
taire, looked with as much pleasure as surprise on the first 
outbreak of -popular fury, and delighted in the security of 
which she herself, as a friend to progress and liberty, was 
assured. But the hour of misfortune and danger was at 
hand The proprietor of the house in which she resided in- 
fonned her that there were secret hiding-places in the walls, 
where papers and valuables could be stowed away. She 
availed herself of the information ; but, unfortunately, at the 
commencement of the Reign of Terror suspicion was excited, 
and an order was given to search the house. A guard was 
placed over the apartments occupied by her; but Deschartres 
and her son Maurice, then a lad of fifteen, contrived by night 
to obtain access to the room, and removed all the papers likely 
to compromise her very seriously. She was, however, sent as 
a prisoner to the Convent des Anglaises, and her son was 
debarred from communicating with her and forced to reside 

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42 George Sand. 

outside the limits of Paris. In August 1794 she was released, 
and retired to Nohant, a country-seat in Berry which she had 
purchased a short time before she was imprisoned. 

Her son had from boyhood a strong desire for a military 
life; but Madame Dupin felt a natural reluctance to her only 
child embracing a career so full of danger. When, however, 
he was twenty years of age, the Directory, having decided on 
an energetic prosecution of the war with Austria and her allies, 
called out a levy of 200,000 men ; and Maurice thus found 
an opportunity of serving without his mother being able to ob- 
ject He joined the army on the Rhine ; and in the next year 
passed into Switzerland, and crossed the St Bernard under 
Ifapoleon. He was present at the battle of Marengo, and 
saw a great portion of the famous Italian campaign, acting 
as aide-de-camp to General Dupont When peace was de- 
clared, he returned to Paris, and remained there until 1804, 
when he was summoned to Boulogne to join the expeditionary 
force intended for the invasion of England. During his long 
absences from home he wrote frequently to his mother; and 
his letters, being preserved with maternal fondness, have come 
into the possession of Madame Dudevant, who has thought 
proper to give them to the world. They are printed in full, 
and make up nearly four volumes of the work. " Character," 
says Madame Dudevant, "is in a great measure hereditary; 
if, therefore, my readers wish to know what my character is, 
they should first study my father's character; and they can- 
not do this properly unless they peruse several hundred of his 
letters." If biographers generally adopt this theory of their 
art, and consider themselves bound or entitled to collect 
together all the writings and traditions of the ancestors of 
the person whose life they are narrating, a hundred volumes 
would soon be considered a very moderate size for this kind 
of book. Fortunately, the maternal ancestors of Madame Du- 
devant did not know how to write, and we are therefore saved 
the psychological study of reading their letters; and her pa- 
ternal line is so soon lost in a chaos of illegitimacy, that 
family records connected with its history were not very likely 
to have been preserved. Otherwise, there is no saying how far 
this great triumph of book-making might not have extended. 

When Maurice was in Italy, he fell in with a lady who made 
a great impression on his heart She was at that time living 
under the protection of a general ; but the young aide-de-camp 
ventured to fall in love with her, and she very disinterestedly 
returned his passion. He wrote frankly to his mother, and 
gave her a full account of the progress of the intrigue. Perhaps 
nothing in the whole of this biography seems more strange to 

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George Sand. 43 

English readers than that a man should select his mother as a 
confidante to share his delight at persuading the mistress of 
another man to come under his care. Madame Dupin, however, 
responded to the appeal, and, treating it as a passing alFair, was 
very pleasant and good-humoured about it She was, however, 
destined to iSnd the great unhappiness of her life in the sequel 
of this amour. When Maurice returned to Paris, the lady went 
there too, and even followed him when he went to see his 
mother at Nohant She took up her abode in a neighbouring 
town ; and Maurice's visits to her naturally excited much scan- 
dal, and caused his mother serious annoyance. Deschartres, who 
continued to reside at Nohant, tried to effect a coup-de-main^ 
and induced the maire of the place to pay her a visit and threaten 
to expel her from the town. But the issue was very unfortunate ; 
for as she refused to go, Maurice had no choice but openly to 
defend her, proclaim himself her protector, and thus appear in 
direct opposition to his mother. Henceforth there was a quarrel 
between the mother and son, which was never really nealed. 
Maurice lived with his mistress at Paris ; and at length, after 
having had one or two children, who died in infancy, he came to 
the determination to marry a woman from whom he could not 
bear to part. One month after their union, on the 5th of July 
1804, Aurore Dupin, since so well known by the name of George 
Sand, came into the world ; and therefore, more fortunate than 
most of her family, Madame Dudevant can just boast of being 
legitimate. Nothing can be mor^ frank or candid than the 
manner in which she lays the whole story before the world: and 
we must confess, that if the elucidation of a female novelist's 
character is a sufficient excuse for publishing the shame of de- 
ceased persons, the point at which she aims is certainly achieved, 
and we do find that the history of the stock, from which George 
Sand sprang, may easily be supposed to have had something to 
do with the startling license of many of her romances. 

The family party was curiously constituted; for Aurore's 
mother had had a daughter by an earlier lover, and her father 
had had a son by another mistress. Aurore formed the uniting 
link — Caroline was her sister, Hippolyte was her brother. Thus 
from her cradle she was surrounded with associations adverse to 
any high-strained notion of the sanctity and necessity of mar- 
riage. Her grandmother was almost her only relation whose 
character was unimpeached ; and her grandmother had striven 
most earnestly to prevent her father from marrying her mother. 
When she became old enough to reflect on her position, she 
must have been influenced by finding herself in daily contact 
with the illegitimate son of her father. Probably from an early 
age this arrangement presented itself to her not as a sacrifice 

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44 George Sand. 

of purity and an infraction of decorum, but as a triumph of na- 
ture and natural affections over the conventional prejudices of 
society. We cannot discover that at any period of her life she 
thought that there was any shame attaching to illegitimacy, or 
to the connections to which it owes its origin ; and it is not dif- 
ficult to see that, as all the recollections of her early life, the 
memory of her mother, and the history of her ancestry, were on 
the side of natural passion as against the artificial restraints of 
l^alised unions, she would be very much predisposed to make 
the heroes and heroines of her romances take their stand under 
the same banners. 

Her father was killed by a fall from his horse when she was 
quite a little girl, and she was at first educated under the joint 
management of her mother and her grandmother. But these 
ladies soon quarrelled, as it was only natural they should do. 
The grandmother was a lady of the style of the eighteenth cen- 
tury — philosophical, Voltairian, shrewd, fond of gaiety, fond of 
her grandchild, fond of ruling all about her. The mother was 
the daughter of a bird-seller; she was utterly uneducated, was 
devout in her own way, and was as much like a spoilt child as 
a grown-up woman can be. As women in every way so dis- 
similar were also divided by the recollection that the younger 
had triumphed over the elder, it is not to be supposed that 
there was much love lost between them. At last the end came ; 
Aurore was left to the charge of her grandmother, and her 
mother went off to Paris. The elder Madame Dupin was pos- 
sessed of a competence, and divided her time between her 
country-seat at Nohant in Berry and Paris ; and Aurore had 
thus considerable advantages in education and in social posi- 
tion as compared with what she could have had if she had 
lived with her mother. 

But her education was very irregular. She was taught Latin 
by the old instructor of her father, Deschartres, and received 
some instruction in history and music. Her grandmother's 
notion of training a girl was to make her read enough to take 
a part in the conversation of educated society, to make her go 
through a very few of the outward observances of religion, to 
let her understand thoroughly how little sensible people believe 
in their value, and in other matters to bid her follow the bent 
of her own inclination. But Aurore was a child of lively feel- 
ings^ and a strong turn for all that was romantic and fanciful. 
She went through the course prescribed her ; but her heart was 
elsewhere. She made romances out of her histories ; she in- 
vented fantasies on the piano ; she composed at a wonderfully 
early age a long fiction, of which a semi-divine being called 
Coramb6 was the hero ; and she was so delighted with her crea- 

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George Sand. 45 

tion^ that Coramb^ almost became a real object pf devotion to 
herself Above all, she found in her separation from her mother 
abundant food for feeling. She worked herself up into a belief 
that her mother was inexpressibly dear to her, and she to her 
mother. She appointed herself her mother's avenger and patron 
against the cruel neglect of her grandmother. When in Paris, 
she was permitted to pay her mother occasional visits ; and she 
then gave vent to the outpourings of her enthusiasm. Her 
mother was a weak but affectionate woman, and her very child- 
ishness made her more attractive to her little daughter. She 
was, too, of a religious turn of mind, and her religion assumed 
a form so common in France, but so rare in England. She 
was supporting herself in the way in which a pretty woman 
without a farthing was too apt to support herself; but she used 
to remain on her knees absorbed in the emotion of passionate 
prayer, and seldom failed to attend Sunday mass ; combining, 
however, with this private piety a great distrust and horror of 
priests and of the respectably good. Thus, by the circumstances 
of her childhood, George Sand was forced in the direction 
in which she afterwards made herself conspicuous ; and was 
taught to seek a refuge from the dullness of ordinary life, and 
the straitness of ordinary propriety, in the half-prohibited so- 
ciety of a woman of untutored affection, of tainted character, 
and of a vague sentimental piety. 

She was also subjected during her childhood to another 
influence, the fruits of which may be traced throughout her 
writings. Her country life at Nohant fostered and elicited her 
naturally strong taste for the beauties of nature, the delights 
of rural happiness, and the society of the agricultural poor. 
She describes in one of the prettiest passages of her memoirs, 
many parts of which are written with much grace and force, 
the keen pleasure she took, when quite a little child, in build- 
ing a tiny grotto under the superintendence of her mother; and 
how she collected for its decoration the tenderest grass, the 
softest moss, and the most brightly-coloured stones. She had 
also a great fondness for animals, especially for birds, — a liking 
she conceives herself to have derived from her maternal grand- 
father ; and she tells us that birds will obey her and will confide 
in her to a degree which astonishes ordinary observers. She 
had also abundance of playmates, for she mixed freely with the 
children of the neighbouring poor; and she describes her delight 
in going in winter-time with twenty or thirty young villagers t^ 
catch larks in the snow. She also frequented the homes of the 
peasants when, in the long winter evenings, they told their mar- 
vellous stories, and kept alive the romantic traditions which 
have existed from time immemorial in the centre of France. 

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46 George Sand. 

When she was about twelve years of a^e, she was sent to 
the Couvent des Anglaises, in .the Rue des Fosses-Saint- Victor. 
The account of the time she passed there is the most interesting 
part of her memoirs. The young ladies received by the nuns as 
pupils were divided into a senior and a junior class; and the junior 
class was said to be composed of three divisions, known fami- 
liarly as les diables, lea betes, and les saaes, according as the girls 
were frisky, stupid^ or pious. Aurore Dupin, though forward in 
learning, belonged by her years to the junior class ; and being 
placed in it, she soon took rank as a leading ''devil.'' She tells 
us that she was grave, silent, and demure ; but could always 
make others laugh^ and was fertile in inventing every kind .of 
mischief The convent was a large rambling building, and she 
and her companions persuaded themselves that there were un- 
happy victims concealed in secret chambers whom it was their 
duty to release. They scratched the plaster off the walls in 
order to find the springs and hinges of hidden doors; and they 
even scrambled on to the roof, and ran about the leads, with a 
vague wish to drop down somewhere and effect an heroic de- 
liverance of a prisoner. Perhaps it is not fanciful to trace in 
the perilous frolics of the little girl the signs of that union of 
boldness and imagination which she afterwards displayed as a 
writer. At length her mistresses became alive to the fact, that 
she was the prime cause of all the " devilry" of the younger class; 
and she was removed to the older one. Thenceforward her con- 
duct became much more steady. The narrative of the years she 
spent among the elder girls is very readable, and is interspersed 
with many excellent remarks on conventual education ; but we 
can only find room to refer to what she says on two subjects — 
her school-friendships, and her first impressions of religion. 

No one can read the narrative of George Sand's school-days, 
or the sketches which she draws of her companions, without 
being struck by the union which they indicate of sensibility 
and sense. There is a great deal of romance ; but there is also 
a great deal of calm judgment and sober appreciation of cha- 
racter. The school-friendships of young ladies have become 
proverbial for the exaggeration and want of reserve which they 
so often betray. The girl first has her doll, and plays at being a 
mother; and then finds a school-friend, and plays at being a lover. 
In the conventual system the possibility of this parody of love- 
making is keenly appreciated, and regulations of the most sug- 
gestive nature are enforced in a spirit of prurient purity. It is 
possible that such a system may be harmless for the ordinary 
run of young women; but it is obvious that girls of a passionate 
nature must experience, when the crisis of passion comes, a great 
heightening of emotion from the power of detecting and the 

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George Sand. 47 

habit of magnifying each tiny step in the path of intimacy which 
they have acquired in their school-days. There was nothing, 
however, in the discipline enforced at the Convent des An- 
glaises to prevent the formation of very romantic friendships ; 
and these friendships were organised on an established plan, 
the mystery, and the very trammels of which, probably added a 
zest to the delights of this feminine pastime. Not only were the 
young ladies bound to arrange their friends in ao order of pre- 
ference publicly announced, but they were bound to adhere to 
the order when once made; so that George Sand was obliged on 
one occasion to explain to her third friend, whom she was really 
fond of, that she much regretted being obliged to love best her 
first and second friends, for whom she did not particularly care. 
Her list included four in all ; and combining their initials in a 
word, she scribbled the word wherever she could find room to 
write it. There was therefore no lack of warmth in her sensi- 
bility ; but she never speaks of her friends or her friendship 
with any foolish raptures > and she shows that she understood 
them and valued them on sober grounds. The description of 
Fannelly, the best loved of her four friends, given at the end 
of the fourteenth volume of the autobiography, is as charming 
as any thing which George Sand ever wrote. No one can mis- 
take the pure and lively affection with which she cherishes the 
memory of the " bright-haired girl, so gay, and so heedless, that 
you would suppose she never thought of any thing, whereas 
she was always thinking how she could please yoiL" And yet 
no one can fail to observe that the traits of Fannelly s cha- 
racter are sketched in by a pencil, which is not that of a 
heated fancy, but of a calm and delicate analysis. The name 
of George Sand is so associated with the expression of &eling 
and passion, that, unless we take every opportunity to mark 
the strong under-current of sense and the justness of observa- 
tion, which also form a part of her character, we shall fail to 
do her justice, and shall miss a very important cause of the 
influence she has exerted. 

The history of her religious struggles at the convent also 
exhibits the same combination of qualities. At fifteen she ex- 
perienced, shortly before receiving her first communion, an ac- 
cess of devotional ardour, the protracted effects of which make 
it indisputable that, in the religious rhapsodies of her novels, 
she is not talking vain words, but is portraying what she has 
herself felt, or what she feels herself capable of feeling. Look- 
ing back, she calls her state of devotional excitement a " sacred 
malady ;" but at the time it was sufficiently real. Untroubled 
by doubts, she accepted the mysteries of Catholicism with 
ecstasy, and fed on the thought that she had eaten the flesh 

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48 George Sand. 

and drunk the blood of her God. Months passed away, and 
she still remained absorbed in the reveries of religious fancy 
— outwardly performing all her duties well, but holding herself 
aloof from her companions. The first shock came not from 
any diminution of her faith, but from an appeal being made to 
a wholly different side of her character. She thought that a 
companion, whom she dearly loved and highly respected, was 
unjustly treated by the Superior; and this suggested the doubt 
whether all was so perfect in the religious world as it seemed. 
She also used to unite with a devout friend in religious exer- 
cises, and assist her in decking with flowers the altar where they 
used to pray. But she began to observe the excessive import- 
ance which her companion attached to these decorations ; and 
recoiling from this occupation as petty and as materialising reli- 
gion, she said to herself that mental union with God was every 
thing, and the form nothing. While she was in this frame of 
mind, her bodily strength gave way. She found to her sorrow 
that she had no longer her old fervour — her old power of en- 
during austerities — her old habitual state of rapture. She tor- 
mented herself with scruples ; she accused herself of constant 
sin ; she despaired of her salvation. Fortunately she was not 
under the care of mystics. The nuns of the English convent 
were by no means anxious to foster the spirit of ecstatical 
piety; and her confessor, a Jesuit, gave her sound practical 
advice. It has been the great work of the Jesuits that, in the 
bosom of Catholicism, they have asserted for this life its due, 
perhaps even more than its due, importance ; and refused to 
remit every hope and interest of man to the world beyond the 
grave. Wnen George Sand told her scruples to her confessor, 
he aJb first cheered her and listened patiently; but, after a 
time, ordered her to change her way of life altogether — ^to re- 
join the society of her old friends, to take plenty of exercise, 
and enjoy all the amusements of the convent. She obeyed, and 
became again the centre of life and gaiety. The conse<|uences 
were most beneficial ; she recovered her health and spirits, and 
took a much more composed view of her religious state. The 
crisis of enthusiasm was over. She still purposed becoming a 
nun, and retained this intention some time after she left the 
convent ; but she was happy, tranquil, and moderate in her 
zeal. She was certainly aided, in this instance, by the good 
sense of others more than her own ; but in a mental cure, 
good sense must alwavs be shown as well by the patient as by 
the physiciaa The heartiness of her obedience to her direc- 
tor s injunction, and the rapidity of its success, both testify to 
the original strength of her mind and the even balance of her 
natural character. 

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George Sand. 49 

She left the conrent to reside with her grandmother at 
Nohant The old lady was shortly afterwards seized with a 
paralytic attack, and lay for a year between life and death. 
This year decided the future career of George Sand. She was 
left almost entirely her own mistress, without any guide or 
control, and without any duty except that of rendering the 
few attentions required by her grandmother's state of health. 
She took violent exercise, and her spirits rose and her bodily 
strength grew greater. She began to read, and the first book 
which her confessor advised her to study was the Genie du 
Christianisme. It was exactly the book to awaken thought in 
her mind; it showed her that Catholicism had taken a new 
direction — that its adherents were not satisfied with the reli- 
gion of which she had looked on a conventual life as the ideal, 
and which she had found embodied in the familiar De Imitor 
Hone Christi. The author of that work saw all wisdom in shun- 
ning the world, all love in divine love, all duty in isolation 
from the sphere of duties. Chateaubriand held up a very dif- 
ferent picture. Christianity was with him the most humane, 
the most genial, the most sociable of religions — the truest 
friend of learning and knowledge. She put away the old 
teacher for the new. She determined to devote herself to her 
family duties, and to seek for wisdom in the study of all the 
famous books to which she could get access. She gives a list 
of the philosophers whom she attacked, including Locke, Leib^ 
nitz, and Aristotle; and as she was seventeen, and about as 
uninformed as most French girls of that age, it is not to be 
wondered at that she got no great profit out of the works of 
those eminent writers, except the knowledge, so instructive to 
the young who can think and feel, that great men do not all 
think alike. Profitless as such vague study must otherwise be, 
it may convey to a mind that needs it a notion of the greatness 
and diversity of human thought At last she came to Rous* 
seau ; and here was a philosopher exactly suited to her. She 
was, as she tells us, " a creature of sentiment ;" and Rousseau 
was the apostle of sentimental philosophy. She had been 
brought up in the democratic traditions which, after the Re- 
storation, ranged themselves around the memory of Buona- 
parte. Rousseau was the herald of the great doctrines of 
equality and fraternity. She was at once attached to and 
dissatisfied with Catholicisni, and Rousseau preached to her 
the gospel of natural love and liberty. Rousseau was easy to 
understand ; his passion overpowered her, his language fasci- 
nated her. She soon also began to read the " literature of de- 
spair \' she pored over R^n^ and Byron. The melancholy so 
delicious to youth fastened on her. She had at once the satis- 

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50 George Sand. 

faction of thinking the world out of joint, and of hating her 
own existence ; she mourned over the condition of the poor 
and the oppressed, and she had serious thoughts of drowning 
herself In time, the first flush of these feelings passed away ; 
she got over the childish stage of big thoughts ; but the influ- 
ences of that year never ceased to act on her. The singular 
tenacity of her character had been made to cling to a few lead- 
ing ideas, which she never afterwards abandoned. Rousseau 
and Chateaubriand have been the stars of her destiny. She is, 
indeed, the Rousseau of modem France ; like him in her pas- 
sion, in her sympathies, in her detestation of established so- 
ciety ; but unlike him, because a poetical, vague, and essentially 
mundane Christianity has worked itself deeply into all her feed- 
ings, through the interpretation which Chateaubriand taught 
her to put upon the lessons of the old mystical Catholicism. 

On her grandmother's death, she became proprietress of 
Nohant, and shortly afterwards was married to M. Dudevant, 
a lieutenant in the army. Gossip has been so busy with her 
name, that few readers require to be told that her married life 
was not a happy ona She does not, however, permit herself to 
speak ill of the man whose name she bears ; and she narrates 
the incidents of their courtship with an animation and tender- 
ness which show that she married by her own free choice : she 
acknowledges that her husband's tastes did not harmonise with 
hers, and that she neither liked the society he cared for nor 
succeeded in the management of her household. For many 
years they lived at Nohant ; and they had two children. At 
length, in 1831, she asked to be allowed to live separately, and 
earn her own livelihood in a way congenial to her ; her hus- 
band assented, and she went to Paris and began novel-writing, 
an occupation she has now followed almost without cessation 
for a quarter of a century. She gives no clue as to the sources 
on which her novels are founded, — if it is true that they are in 
a way based on her personal history, — and expressly assures us 
that she did not sketch any circumstances in her own expe- 
rience when she wrote Indiana, which, being her first novel,, 
has naturally been considered most likely to contain autobio- 
graphical reminiscences. The latter part of her memoirs con- 
tains few facts relating to herself, and consists principally of 
criticisms on French literature, accounts of literary contem- 
poraries, and expositions of her leading opinions on religion, 
morals, and art. So far as their contents demand notice in a 
sketch like the present, they may therefore be most conveni- 
ently noticed when we speak of her novels themselves. 

She tells us that when Lelia appeared, an intimate friend 
wrote to express his extreme surprise that a book so wild, so 

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George Sand, 51 

extraordinarj, and so evidently the fruit of deep personal feel- 
ing, should have been written by a lady whom he had only 
known as a very quiet person, fond of sewing, and a good 
hand at making preserves. She lived completely in an inner 
world of her own, fostering her fancies, brooding over her griefs, 
surveying as in a vision the men and things of the actual world. 
Hence, perhaps, arose much of the singular fearlessness with 
which she wrote, much of the intensity with which she ex- 
pressed her feelings, and much of the very unpractical character 
which her theories assumed. She was also acted on very power- 
fully by the general influences of the time in which her mind 
was matured, both by the tone of the current literature, and by 
the sentiments which pervaded the political world of France. 
She found that the literature of despair was echoed in the pro- 
found disappointment caused by the failure of the Revolution 
of July. Nothing can be more gloomy than the picture she 
draws of the state of Parisian society and Parisian feeling, when 
she came to take a part in it as a writer and thinker. The re- 
public dreamt of in July had ended in the massacre of Warsaw 
and the bloody sacrifice oflered to the dynasty of Louis Phi- 
lippe The cholera had just decimated the world. St Simon- 
isra had failed. Art had disgraced by its deplorable errors the 
cradle of its romantic reform. The time was out of joint ; and 
the men and women in it were either given up to the depres- 
sion of disbelief, or to the search after material prosperity. 

It was when subjected to the first great pressure of such in- 
fluences as theso that George Sand wrote IMiay the most famous 
and the most typical of her novels. It is to an English reader, 
and judged of from the point of view of common sense, one of 
the most incoherent, foolish, morbid, blasphemous, and useless 
books that have been sent across the Channel during the present 
century ; and yet no one can deny that it discloses much power 
of writing, and some of thinking. Viewed historically, and 
judged of by the circumstances under which it was written, 
it undoubtedly gives a very bold and forcible expression to 
thoughts then widely current in France. There is, too, a kind 
of directness and sincerity in it, which gives it, even in the 
wildness of its ravings, the charm of honesty. But whatever 
are its merits or faults, at any rate it contains the doctrines of 
George Sand — the innermost thoughts of her heart, the ideas 
of her life — in their most salient and repulsive form. The cha- 
racters are removed into an arena entirely apart from the pos- 
sibilities of real life. Each represents a phase of the society 
she saw around her; and as there is no plot nor any dramatic 
interest, the only aim is to work out this representation to its 
fullest and last consequences. In L^ia society is entirely dis- 

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52 George Sand. 

solved ; the family ifi not described even as a feature of human 
life ; God is alternately pronounced not to exist, and permitted 
to enjoy the prerogative of blessing the most vicious and weak 
fools who will shed a few tears over the cessation of their 
power to sin. Catholicism is a pageant into which poetical 
minds in vain endeavour to infuse a new life. Women are 
either prostitutes, or only refuse to be so because any surrender 
to the other sex brands them with inequality. Coarseness of 
thought is equalled by a curious frankness of expression. L^lia, 
the heroine, cannot make out whether she ought to hate her- 
self as " the most cunning and revolting combination of an in- 
fernal will," or whether she ought to despise herself as ''an 
inert production, engendered by chance and matter.'' Her 
lover asks what he can do for her. She sends in return the 
following modest list of her requirements : " Will you blas- 
pheme for me ? That may perhaps console me. Will you cast 
stones at heaven, outrage God, curse eternity, invoke annihila- 
tion, adore evil, call down destruction on the works of Provi- 
dence, and contempt on its worship ? Are you capable of kill- 
ing Abel to avenge me on God, my tyrant ? Will you bite the 
dust and eat the sand, like Nebuchadnezzar ? Will you, like 
Job, exhale your anger and mine in vehement imprecations ? 
Will you, pure and pious young man, plunge up to your neck 
in scepticism, and roll in the abyss where I expire?" And 
so it goes on ; and this is the way in which Lelia and her 
friends rave through page after page. The impression which 
Lelia leaves on us cannot be shaken off. George Sand kas 
long left the stage in which it was written, and, in her me- 
moirs, speaks of it as very crude work But the mental history 
of men hangs together ; and even in her best and purest and 
soberest works there is a touch of L^lia to be found 

Love forms the staple of George Sand's novels, as of most 
of the works of other novelista But with her neither the 
analysis nor the description of passion, subtle as she often is 
in the former, and rich and delicate as she often is in the 
latter, is the most prominent feature of what she has to say 
about love. She has a persuasion, we may almost say a creed, 
to enforce and advocate as to the relation of the sexea It 
is high-flown, unpractical, and impossible, of a tendency, per- 
haps, more than doubtful ; but it is sincerely felt, powerfully 
upheld, and in itself appeals to the loftier side of human 
nature. It is not a doctrine wholly bad to preach, that per- 
sons should give play to their genuine feehngs and despise 
concessions to a mercenary world. We are, of course, tempted 
immediately to ask whether the feelings gratified are pure as 
well as sincere, and fostered not only to the gain of the indi- 

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George Sand. 53 

vidaal entertaining them bnt without harm to others. It is 
ahnost impossible to avoid confounding a free expression of 
feelings with a blind obedience to animal instincts, unless we 
are allowed to test the worth of these feelings by looking at 
their quality and their consequences; and it must be as true 
in France as every where else, that love is sensual and de- 
grading unless it raises the moral character, and is fulfilled or 
repressed according to the dictates of unselfishness. George 
Sand states her theory to be, that love is a solemn sacrifice 
to be offered in the presence of God, and necessary for the 
perfection of individuala At first this seems a mere common- 
place ; but George Sand draws two conclusions, which society 
— English societv, at any rate — rejecta The first is, that love 
is its own justincation. The lovers meet ; they are fitted for 
each other, they are framed to go together through a process 
necessary to complete the growth of their religious nature. 
Society must not interpose any arrangements which will pre- 
vent the happiness of tne lovers. The barriers of class, the ties 
of a union that is conventional, not real, must be swept away. 
The second consequence is, that when the religious feeling, 
the highest exaltation of passion, ceases, the tie ceases also. 
There is nothing binding m love excepting the completeness 
of its existence Common sense will immediately tell us that 
this will never do. Society cannot go on, if adultery is not 
so much justified as abrogated by the assumption .that lovers 
have a right to love. Right feeling warns us that we are 
here brought to the verge of impurity. Family life, we per- 
ceive, could not continue, if the calm and moderated flow of 
matured affection, although fallen to a lower level of excite- 
ment than the first transports of passion, were not sufficient 
to make the continuance of the most intimate relation of the 
sexes permissibla But setting aside the ultimate result to 
which such considerations will bring us, we may easily ac- 
knowledge that the arrangements of modem society, or rather 
of society in every age and place, sacrifice many individuals to 
the interests of the community ; and also that there is much 
in the tone of society which brutalises and materialises feel- 
ings, to invest which with a poetical and spiritual halo is one 
of the highest achievements of man. George Sand seizes on 
this truth ; and, regardless of the limitations which common 
sense imposes and morality enjoins, gives the rein to her fancy, 
her sensibility, and her enthusiasm. 

In judging George Sand, we cannot too often call to mind 
that she is French, and that in many of the things which 
seem strange to us she is but describing the habits, or fol- 
lowing the fashion, of her countrymen. It is not only that 

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54 George Sand, 

she looks on life generally from the foreign point of view, and, 
more especially, treats marriage as the necessary preliminary, 
not the end, of love-making; but there are a thousand minor 
touches which separate her widely from English readers, and 
which belong more to the country than to the individual 
writer. Not a little of what seems her sentimentalism is 
really the reflection of actual life. We presume, for example, 
that we may take as founded on an adequate induction the 
curious fact that French lovers cry. This alone places the 
love-stories of France in quite a different sphere from those 
of England. George Sand's young men think nothing of 
having a good gush of tears, real running tears, because their 
mistress pleases them or ofiends them, or smiles or frowns, or 
keeps or misses an appointment An Englishman crying and 
weeping because a young woman whom he is fond of does not 
come as soon as he expects, is an impossibility. And if men 
can cry for such things, how can we, who have no similar feel- 
ings whatever, say but that at a stage of excitement a little 
higher, Frenchmen might feel it not much out of the way if 
a young lady, when she did come, were to ask them to curse 
eternity and eat grass? Then, again, George Sand is most won- 
derfully coarse. Her language would be considered rather plain 
in England for men to use in conversation with each other; it 
appears doubly strange from the pen of a female writer. But 
the French are habitually what we should call coarse, and they 
call plain-spoken. They call a spade a spade. They do not 
distinguish between the passions, and speak of the physical 
symptoms and issues of love as they would of those of fear. 
We may say of them what Dr. Livingstone says of some of the 
African tribes, that "they seem to have lost all tradition of 
the fig-leaf" When, therefore, a Frenchwoman speaks a little 
more openly than we should, we must not look on her as we 
should on a woman who violated decorum in a country where 
vestiges of the tradition still remain. 

Nor ought we to call George Sand's novels in a very high 
degree immoral, if we judge them by the standard of French 
fiction. No test of immorality can be more crucial than the 
mode in which female chastity is regarded. Now, although 
female frailty is the topic on which George Sand writes most 
largely, it cannot be said that she takes pleasure in the over- 
throw of chastity, or even that she regards it as a matter of 
indifference. In most French novels that can fairly be called 
immoral, the author looks on chastity as a thing which it is 
a triumph and a ^lory to surmount But George Sand feels 
truly and deeply the moumfulness and the pity of the termi- 
nation of purity. But then she goes into a field which modern 

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George Sand. 55 

English writers wholly avoid, not because it does not exist, but 
because they do not like to enter on it They never let their 
female characters wander beyond the influence of those safe- 
guards which the fabric of family life plants round English- 
women of the upper classes. But in George Sand, as in almost 
all foreign writers, these external safeguards are never allowed 
to interfere with the great problem to answer which is the 
main object of interest with her. She only asks herself what 
will be the conduct of lovers under given circumstances. In 
Gonsuelo the heroine is thrown into every temptation which 
can endanger virtue, — ardent passion, dangerous proximity, 
and isolation from the world. But she has a simplicity which 
guards her, and she remains pure because she had promised her 
mother that she would be so. The whole object of Consudo is 
to show that by the possession of this simplicity, and its con- 
sequent purity, she was raised above the women around her. 
In VaierAine, the most touching and beautiful of George Sand's 
earlier tales, the heroine is overcome ; but it would be absurd 
to say that a person who conceived and worked out the cha- 
racter of Valentine thought lightly of chastity. Valentine 
struggles hard, she watches herself, she has little sentimental- 
ism, she honestly and truly desires not to deceive her husband 
and lose her self-respect The authoress undoubtedly impels 
Valentine to her sorrowful end in order to illustrate her main 
theme, that society has no right to interpose barriers in the way 
of true affection, and thus create scruples which must finally 
give way. But the tone which pervades the tale is not at all 
that of a woman, who could believe that the delights of sen- 
suous passions are any compensation for the loss of purity. 
To an English reader accustomed to the safeguards of Eng- 
lish society, a novel portraying the guilty love of a married 
woman must seem in some degree immoral; for the whole 
range of thought is one which it is the object of English 
society to eliminate from at least the surface of family Ufe. 
But to a person within this range of thought, and accustomed 
to look on such temptations as very possible and real, we can 
conceive the best of George Sand's tales might prove a source 
of strength quite as much as of weakness. We cannot deny 
that their warmth of language, their fatalism, and their tend- 
ency to shift the blame from the individual on to society, are 
sources of weakness. But the high value set on purity, and 
the general elevation of the standard by which the worth 
of love' is tried, might, on the other hand, prove sources of 

If we want to see George Sand on her best side, we must 
observe her estimate of men. The great source of that superiority 

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66 Ge&rge Sand. 

of moral tone which, amidst all the immoralities of her novels, 
makes itself felt when we contrast her writings with those of 
the ordinary' loose novelists of modem France, is the hearty 
contempt which she entertains for the kind of lovers who form 
the heroes of worse novelists. The blasi, captivating, polished 
Parisians to whom the heroines of her contemporaries are wont 
to sacrifice their easy virtue, are invariably represented by 
George Sand as the banes of women, as the characters in the 
tale least to be sympathised with, as the foils of the men who 
can feel true love. M. de Ramiere, in Indiana, is exactly the 
lover of the common French novel He wins Indiana's heart ; 
but the whole point of the book is to show his immeasurable 
inferiority to her, and the pettiness of his timid selfishness. 
Indiana has that degree of purity and sincerity which makes 
her loathe the thought of deceiving her husband, and prompts 
her to throw herself entirely on her lover, if she throws herself 
on him at all. He is busy with a thoasand other thoughts^— 
politics, success in society, advancement in the world. She 
has no thought but for him. She makes a great effort; she 
determines to brave every thing, to suffer every thing, and 
to give herself wholly to her lover. She leaves her husband's 
house, and in the middle of the night flies to Raymon. He 
receives her with earnest entreaties to be allowed to get her a 
cab, and to send her back before any of the servants can have 
noticed her absence. Witl\ him is contrasted Sir Ralph ; an 
impassible unimpressive character, but possessinsr such tena- 
city of affection, and a love so complete, so regardless of conse-' 
quences, that he loves her equally whether she is chaste or 
unchaste, kind to him or unkind, and is as ready to die with 
her in the joint suicide which they take four months to carry 
out, as to live with her in the glorified hut at the top of an in- 
accessible mountain, which is their ultimate destination. So 
too in Vakntime, M. de Lansac, the lover whom society forces 
on Valentine, is contrasted with Benedict, the lover against 
whom society warns her, not because she belongs to another 
man, but because he is poor and ignoble. According to the 
standard of society, M. de Lansac behaves admirably to Valen- 
tine. He is too much a man of the world either to notice or 
to interfere with her love for Benedict further than to put on 
a little stronger screw when he is negotiating money-matters 
with her and her friends. He lets her know, but with the most 
cutting politeness, and the most aggravating considerateness, 
that he is perfectly aware of her secret ; but when she implores 
him to protect her against herself, he tells her that she had 
better enjoy her first love as much as she can, for she will find 
that, as she begins to change her lovers^ second and third. 

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George Sand. 57 

passions are ]ess and less delightful In Benedict there may 
perhaps be something overstrained, but at any rate he is so 
drawn that he gives the impression of a simple earnestness of 
affection. It would be, of course, absurd to say that such con- 
trasts prove any thing as to Parisian society. George Sand, 
like every other novelist, arranges her puppets as she pleases ; 
and it is as easy to make all dandy lovers heartless as to make 
all humbler lovers boors. But the puppets indicate the direc- 
tion in which their mistress moves them. She handles them 
so as to show her ideal of affection ; and putting aside all 
collateral questions as to the manner in which it is worked 
out, we must admit that» as compared with the ideal of most 
French novelists, hers is a very good ideal. 

" I think," she says in one of her tales, " that a noble 
passion ought to be defined as that which elevates us and 
strengthens us in beauty of sentiment and grandeur of ideas : 
a bad passion as that which leads us to egotism, to fear, to all 
the pettinesses of a blind instinct Every passion, therefore, 
is lawful or criminal according as it produces the one or the 
other result ; although society, which is not the true expression 
of the wishes of man, often sanctifies the bad passion, and pro- 
scribes the good.'' This passage, which may be taken as a 
formula of her whole creed on the subject of love, occurs in 
Horace^ a very singular and not very pleasing tale, the drift of 
which is to exhibit another kind of man's love falling short of 
the ideal The whole story is an exemplification of the utter 
abandonment of the conventionalities of society in which George 
Sand places herself when striking the balance of virtues and 
vices ; for the good character of the book is a grisette who acts • 
throughout with the greatest nobleness, discretion, and self- 
respect, and the two lovers are a barmaid and a student Sur- 
veying the world to find the desired kind of love, George Sand 
noted a counterfeit which evidently filled her with a mixture 
of pity and indignation. This was the love of a man whose 
fancy only is touched, whose vanity is pleased, who feels it due 
to himself to have a mistress, and a proper result of his culti- 
vated taste and varied education that he should look on her in 
a great many lights, all highly poetical For the moment he is 
sincere ; but there is no depth in a feeling at the bottom of 
which lies a shallow egotism. When Horace read Alfred de 
Musset, he insisted on picturing Marthe — a simple, good-look- 
ing, tender-hearted, stupid country girl — as one of the dangerous 
Ji^ d'Eve of that writer. The next day, after perusing afeuiUe- 
ton of Jules Janin, she had to become in his eyes an elegant 
and coquettish woman of fashion. Then, after he had perused 
the romances of Dumas, she was a tigress, whom he must be -a 

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58 George Sand. 

tiger himself to manage. And, after be had finished Balzac 8 
Peau de Chagrin, she was a mysterious beauty, whose every 
look and every word had a profound meaning. The issue of 
this versatile passion is, that Horace gets tired of his mistress, 
and behaves so cruelly to her that she leaves him, and he 
thinks she has committed suicide. The flutterings of tempo- 
rary remorse, which this event produces in his mind, are stilled 
by the advances of a patrician coquette and the advice of a 
patrician debauchee, who explains to him that the suicide of 
his mistress will be the greatest of advantages to him, and 
make him irresistible with the fair sex. In the background of 
the story there is the dim figure of a heavenly-minded waiter, 
who has nourished a deep love for Marthe through all the 
vicissitudes of her unchastity, and who, if he is not allowed to 
adorn the tale by very frequent intervention, points the moral 
by the superiority which his steady flame evinces over the 
evanescent scintillations of the student's love. 

In Lucrezia Floriani, the imperfect lover is viewed from a 
very different side. Prince Karol loves well enough, but not 
wisely enough. We know from the autobiography what was 
the character attempted to be drawn under this name. " I 
have traced," says the authoress, " in Prince Karol the cha- 
racter of a man limited in his nature, exclusive in his feelings, 
exclusive in his requirements." He represents the affections 
of a man without manliness. The leading thought of the 
writer seems to have been, the impossibility of a woman being 
happy with a love which is in its essential qualities feminine. 
She finds no strength to support, no calmness to tranquillise 
her. Karol's love is intense, constant, unselfish. A good- 
hearted cheerful man of the world is introduced as a rival, in 
order to exhibit a contrast Salvator, we read, sought for hap- 
piness in love; and when he could not find it, his love vanished 
gently away. But Karol loved for the sake of loving ; no suf- 
fering could repel him. And yet he killed his mistress, a 
woman of large overflowing heart. His eagerness to absorb 
the whole of her being in return for the surrender of his own, 
cut her off from every enjoyment, and at length from the possi- 
bility of liying. He was jealous of her performing the simplest 
action for another. " If she smelt a flower, if she picked up a 
stone, if she caught a butterfly to add to her child's collection, 
if she caressed her dog, he would murmur to himself, * Every 
thing pleases and amuses her; she admires and loves every 
thing ; she cannot, then, love me, — me, who do not see dr ad- 
mire, or cherish, or understand aught in the world but her. 
We are separated by an abyss.' " His love is aptly compared to 
a process of killing by sticking innumerable pins into the flesh ; 

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.George Sand. 59 

and his mistress sinks under the agony of an endless series of 
trifling irritations. 

It is much easier to paint the wrong love than the right ; 
but in one tale George Sand has attempted to sketch an affec- 
tion which is equally profound and durable. Mauprat is one 
of the best of her novels, and Edmee is perhaps the best of her 
heroines. The circumstances of the story are so exceptional, 
that the difficulties of portraying a worthy love in man are 
hardly met. It is true that Bernard tells the tale when he is 
eighty, and can say that from his boyhood to his old age he 
never loved any one else, nor ever for a moment ceased to love 
Edmee ; but the plot, which turns on the moral education of a 
fierce undisciplined boy, under the guidance of a refined high- 
spirited girl, enables the writer to avoid drawing the perfection 
of love by drawing the imperfection of an unformed character. 
What Bernard was after his training was finished and he had 
won his wift, we are not told ; we are only asked to watch how 
his passion, at first brutal and instinctive, becomes gradually 
heightened and purified. But we must not examine such points 
too narrowly. It is seldom that a novelist keeps any purpose 
in view throughout, and we look for something else in a story 
than philosophical completeness And certainly the picture of 
the two cousins Edm^e and Bernard is exquisitely drawn, and 
the gradual progress of the education conceived with great 
nicety of thought and worked out with admirable skill. Edmee, 
caught in the robbers' stronghold of Roche-Mauprat, in order 
to save her honour purchases her deliverance from disgraceful 
violence by a vow never to belong to any one but Bernard, 
then a hot-headed young savage. His first step in education is 
the victory over himself which lets his cousin go free ; and the 
nature of the victory shows the extremely low moral point at 
which he begins. His next stage is the determining to obey 
her wishes — not to get drunk, and not to contradict her father. 
Then he discovers that she recoils from the childish savage to 
whom she has bound herself, although she secretly loves him ; 
and he comprehends that she will kill herself rather than give 
herself to him before he has learnt the lesson of which he 
stands in such pressing need. The comprehension of this, the 
realisation to himself of the fact that a woman would rather 
die than allow herself to be brutalised to his level, is the great 
awakening force which stimulates him to a new life. It is 
impossible to describe the beauty with which the action of 
Edmee's influence is conveyed. Mauprat is not written accord- 
ing to an English model The handling is broad. George 
Sand tries to imagine clearly, and she certainly expresses 
openly, what would be the real feelings of a hot-blooded boy. 

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60 Getn-ge Sand. 

She neither shrinks from the subject of physical sensations, nor 
veils it in the obscurity of penny-a-lining euphemisma But 
if she is so far truer to nature than would here be thought 
decorous, she is also true to nature in a manner that is really 
admirable. She is true to the power of purity, to the sustain- 
ing force of generous thoughts, and to the docility of a passion 
great enough to be humble. 

When, in a love-story, one of the lovers is a married woman, 
there is undoubtedly a disagreeable aspect in which the pro- 
gress of a wife's passion may be viewed. The husband is verj 
much in the way; what is to become of him? Novelists have 
very often solved the problem by making the husband ridicu- 
lous, or stupid, or worthless. But this is a very shallow con- 
trivance. Suppose the husband is a worthy, honest, tender- 
hearted, generous man, b any regard to be shown to his feel- 
ings ? And if he perceives what is going on, what is he to do ? 
George Sand, who likes difficulties of this sort, and never re- 
coils from any task simply because it is arduous, faces the 
question boldly, and in two of her novels has given us her 
opinions, or rather sentiments, on the subject 

In Jacques^ the husband, who is in middle life, marries a 
voung wife to whom he is passionately attached, and then sees 
ner fascinated by the attractions of a young man of her own 
age. Fernande, the heroine, is a very good girl, and tries hard 
to please and love her husband ; but she is only at ease when she 
is with Octave. The young pair discuss the character and con- 
duct of the husband in a very impartial and ingenuous manner, 
and are most hearty in pronouncing that he is the object of their 
deepest respect and admiration. Still love will have its way, 
and the inexorable affinities impel them to combine. Jacques 
sees as clearly as possible what is happening. He understands 
that he is not wanted. He complains that society will not let 
him act as he would wish ; it will not permit him to stand by 
and calmly bless the union of his wife with her paramour. So 
he considers that no choice is left him, and he prepares to com- 
fort her by his suicide. But so great is his generosity, that he 
fears lest he should make the lovers miserable if he leaves them 
with the sting of thinking they have driven him to death. So, 
by adopting a few clever precautions, he succeeds in making 
them suppose that he has accidentally fallen from the cliff at the 
foot of which his corpse is found. This is one way of getting 
over the difficulty. The husband behaves most handsomely, and 

But the husband in the other novel to which we refer, Le 
P4ch^ de M. Antoine, behaves better, or rather, the circum- 
stances of the plot permit him to take the step which George 

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Gewge Sand. 61 

Sand \?ould have society make open to every husband. The 
offspring of the adultery is the heroine of the story, and she 
brings about a happy reconciliation between her father and 
the husband of her mother. An unphilosophical irritation has 
kept them asunder for years ; but (rilberte, the heroine, when 
driven by a storm to seek for shelter, happens to see a portrait 
of her mother in the house of what, speaking conventionally, 
we may call the injured husband, and she is struck by its like- 
ness to a miniature which she has often seen in the hands of 
her father, who, contrary to the usual practice in such cases, 
has brought her up. '' Her modest imagination refusing to com- 
prehend the possibility of an adultery," she is naturally puzzled ; 
but she takes advantage of the occasion to make friends with 
the first possessor of the original, and at length gets him to par- 
don the second possessor. Friendship survives the conflict and 
consequences of youthful passibn* and they are all happy at the 
end of the book. This, then, is the moral : forgive and forget 
if you can ; or if not, shoot yourself, so as not to annoy any 
one. If we compare this with the standard of ordinary societv, 
it seems absurd ; if with a high standard, it seems lamentably 
false ; and the whole doctrine of elective affinities on which it 
rests is worse than ridiculous, but it bears a sort of relationship 
to many thoughts and feelings which we cannot call absolutely 
untrue or wholly depraved. It belongs to that flux of opinion 
which is the great cnaracteristic of modem society, when men 
are striving to gain a substitute for the construction which a 
past age put on Christianity, and to incorporate their religious 
traditions and feelings with a mass of thoughts at present ut- 
t^y confused — partly derived from the notions of antiquity, 
partly the growth of political changes, and partly the fruit of 
a real progress in a scientific knowledge both of the moral and 
the physical world. 

It is because there is something elevated in her tone, and 
because she encounters great and embarrassing problems, that 
George Sand has made herself a name. But the minor charms, 
and the minor merits of her writings, ought never to be for- 
gotten. And while we are speaking of her as a portrayer of 
passion, we cannot omit to notice the many subordinate ways 
in which she shows her knowledge, her power of reflection, and 
her sense of beauty with regard to love. Even the physical 
minutiiB, the magnetism of attraction, the nervous crises, the 
effect of dress, carriage, and posture, which she notes so care^ 
fully, and introduces so effectively, although they belong to the 
sensual side of love, indicate great power of observation. She 
constantly makes general remarks on the situation of lovers in 
the different stages of passion which betray accurate knowledge 

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62 George Sand. 

and a faculty of sympathetic penetration. Lucrezia Floriani 
abounds in such remarks. When, for instance, Karol knows 
that his love is returned, he begins to tremble at his own suc- 
cess, and think his victory had been too easy. "Karol feared 
to see Lucrezia's love cease as quickly as it had been kindled ; 
and like all men in such circumstances, he got alarmed at the 
impulsive haste which he had so much admired and blessed." 
Sometimes a little touch of sentimentalism is thrown in so as 
to double and complicate the feelings. When Mauprat receives 
his first kiss from Edmee : " This kiss, the first a woman had 
given me since my infancy, recalled to me, I know not how or 
why, the last kiss of my mother; and instead of pleasure, it pro- 
duced in me a profound sadnesir.'" But the power of George Sand 
goes much further. She has shown that she can do what so few 
Save ever really done; she can describe young, fresh, pure love 
so as to make it seem something new, true to life, and yet her 
own. There is perhaps no passage in her works which, taken 
by itself, can rival the beautiful account of 66n6dict's feelings 
for Valentine, as he sat with her and her friend on a summer 
day by a sheet of water, and watched her image alternately 
formed and broken on the rippling surface. No one without a 
real gift of native poetry could have conceived or written it 

Next to her treatment of the passion of love, her socialism 
is the most salient feature in Georj^e Sand's writings. She re- 
peatedly proclaims herself a socialist; and inLePSchideM.An- 
toine she has given the world a novel in which her doctrines on 
this head are supposed to be embodied. But frequently as she 
recurs to the topic in her writings, we must not ask too narrowly 
what her creed is, or what she means by socialism. In the first 
place, she uses the privilege of female philosophers to avoid 
bringing any point to a direct and definite issue. But she is 
also checked in her communistic aspirations by her common 
sense; and in no direction is her combination of sentimentalism 
with a sound appreciation of actual life so visible as in that of 
her socialism. She is alternately very untrue and very true, very 
blind and very clear-sighted. In her great socialist novel, she 
lays down two propositions, which, if taken out of the haze of 
fine writing, are simply absurd. The first is, that a capitalist, 
by setting up manufactures in a poor neighbourhood, and em- 
ploying work-people, ruins every body about him. The second 
is, that a proprietor who never interferes with, or is on his guard 
against the poor, is never robbed. If any one has lived in the 
country for a fortnight and believes either of these two state- 
ments, all reasoning would be powerless to convince him of his 
error. No wonder that George Sand, who owns she could never 
manage her own property, and tells us that she never exactly 

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George Sand, 63 

ascertained which were her fields and which were not, and 
whose notions of the position of a rich man in the country are 
of a corresponding dimness, should let her pen loose in dressing 
up the fancies of a socialist paradise. But, on the other hand, 
she never loses her common sense altogether. There is a re- 
markable passage in Mauprat in which she expresses her recog- 
nition of the solidity of society. It is, she says, a strange 
building; but it all coheres, and none but a great genius must 
think of stirring a stone in it. In her autobiography, again, she 
tells us that she meditated over her own practical duties on the 
subject of giving her goods to the poor; ai\d she came to^the 
conclusion, that charity did as much harm as good. The up- 
shot of all this is, that the socialism which she recommends 
is remanded to a future far enough off to be comfortably safe. 
No model socialist in the novels sets about doing any thing at 
once. In Consuelo, the mad count and his bride decide that 
after a long interval of time Consuelo shall be the instrument 
of bestowing unascertained blessings on some unknown per- 
sons ; and Le Peche de M, Antoine ends by the socialist marquis 
informing the hero and heroine that he is going to bequeath 
them a property on which he has already laid out a garden^ 
where the peasants of the vicinity, when they have all become 
good, pious, and wise, are to walk gratis. This may be non- 
sensical and visionary, but its harmlessness is extreme. There 
can be nothing dangerous in socialism like this. 

For the purpose of studying George Sand as an author, it is 
much more important to look at the sources than the results 
of her socialism. The opinions are of little value ; but it is 
instructive to see how she came to hold them. The situation 
of France during the last twenty years has certainly had some- 
thing to do with the formation of her creed. Not only is the 
contrast between luxury and poverty, palaces and hovels, as 
marked in Paris as in any spot of civilised Europe; but in 
France, as Benedict complains in Valerdine, the notion of 
citizenship has been lost. If an Englishman feels a desire to 
remove social evils, he has at least got the advantage of a 
definite starting-point in society. But in France this is far less 
the case; and although there is undoubtedly something morbid 
in such moanings against the existing state of things as are 
put into the mouth of Benedict, yet an Englishman may be apt 
to forget how much ha is supported by the consciousness that 
he forms part of a system of government which he is proud of, 
and how powerfully the alienation of honest minds from a ri- 
ffime like that of Louis Philippe must have tended to produce in- 
action and apathy. George Sand came to Paris with a sense of 
personal injury, and an aversion to the constitution of society. 

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64 George Sand. 

which, for some reason or other, she evidently thought pressed 
hardly on her. When she arrived there, she fell in with many 
writings, and many persons, of a socialistic character; and it 
was very natural that she should readily accept a scheme which 
satisfied her imagination, stimulated her enthusiasm, and gave 
an expression at once to her personal dissatisfaction and to the 
dissatisfaction pervading the society around her. It also ap- 
pealed to a very different class of her sympathies — ^to her love 
of the country and of the dwellers in the country. She delights 
in telling us that the pour and the uneducated are often much 
wiser and nobler than the rich ; and she has twice drawn, in the 
Jean Jappeloup oi'LePicMde M. Antoine, and the Patience of 
Mauprat, the character of such a peasant — a thoughtful, benevo- 
lent, eccentric man, the terror of the selfish rich, the darling of 
the socialist heroines, and the champion of the surrounding poor. 
When she is guided, not by her feelings, but by her experience, 
and speaks of the real peasants she had known in Berry, she 
very honestly describes tnem as cunning, superstitious, and pig- 
headed. But she could not be happy without her ideal peasant 
also; and as it cannot be denied that there are exceptional pea- 
sants, she does but magnify and clothe with a sentimental glory 
virtues that either exist, or might very possibly do so. 

George Sand talks so much of art and of artists, she alludes 
to works of art so repeatedly and so enthusiastically, and she has 
made so many of her novels turn on the adventures of persons 
who have sought a livelihood in some kind of artistic occupa- 
tion, that we might easily imagine a love and knowledge of 
what we technically term * art' to be a prominent part in her 
intellectual culture. But when we examine what she has 
written, we find that what she really cares for in art is a cer- 
tain mode of living which she conceives artists at liberty to 
enjoy, and that her appreciation of the works of great masters 
is very slight, her judgment very untrustworthy, and her ac- 
quaintance with the principles and history of art very super- 
ncial. She has given us a most highly-wrought and seductive 
account of the labours of the MaUres mosdistes; she has 
brought before us their noble patience, their honest enthu- 
siasm, their disinterested carefulness of execution ; but of any 
thing like intelligent criticism on their productions there is 
not a trace. The compositions of these Maitres mosaistea still 
exist in Venice, and they are indisputably of a very poor and 
second-rate order of merit But the quality of their perform- 
ance is a matter of utter indifference to George Sand ; her only 
interest is in their biography. When she gives an account of 
the works of a really great artist, as, for instance, when in her 
Lettres d'un Voyageur she speaks of Canova^ the writing is as 

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George Sand. 65 

graceffiil as her writing always is ; but the criticism is of the 
most ComTnonplace kind. Her admiration of what excellence 
she has seen in architecture, sculpture, and painting, is ge- 
nuine ; but it is uninstructed. She is an imaginative observer, 
but not a connoisseur. 

Artists, not art, have been her real study ; and for many 
years of her life, as we learn from her autobiography, artists 
have been her constant companions. She delights in them, 
because she believes that they are more independent of society 
than any other set of people : they live, or are supposed to 
live, in their own world, with their own rules of conduct and 
their own code of morality. George Sand admires excessively 
what she calls their vie boMmienne et insouciante. She also 
likes them because women are brought into a greater equality 
in their world than elsewhere. In the theatre, a prima donna 
is a very great person. The equality of the sexes seems re- 
stored if the female contralto can snub the male bass. All 
this goes straight to George Sand's heart, and we may be sure 
she manages to idealise the most ordinary of these facts. She 
furnishes, for instance, Consuelo with excellent reasons for 
going on the stage; the gist of which is, that in Druidical 
times the attractions of the theatre and the altar were united 
in the solemnities of religious processions, and that women 
were then priestesses. In these degenerate days, if a woman 
wishes to assume a religious character she has to become a nun, 
and is then buried alive ; so her only way of retaining any 
thing of her sibylline privileges is to look to the other half of 
the vocation of a Druidess, and get a satisfactory engagement 
as an opera-singer. But it would be unfair to say that George 
Sand passes over the higher side of an artist's life. She has 
drawn in Consuelo a very beautiful picture of an artist who 
loves what is highest in her own branch of art, and whose 
purity of mind is allied to, and strengthened by, her refine- 
ment of tasta In the Maitres mosdistea also she has exhibited 
an impressive type of the conscientious, laborious, far-seeing 
workman. But it is to the lower side of this life that she ge- 
nerally looks. Her whole conception of an artist's life, so far 
as it is founded on fact at all, relates entirely to the secondary 
class of artists. The great artists of each generation do not 
lead a vie bohemienne et insouciante ; or if they do, their work 
suffers proportionately. But it is quite true that there is a 
society of more unpretending artists who have a sort of world 
of their own, and whose life, if regarded in its hours of gaiety 
and prosperity, may be said to possess that careless happiness 
which is popularly ascribed to a gipsy existence. 

George Sand idealises this lower artist-life in one way ; for 

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66 George SafuL 

she represents it in its brightest hours and most lucky yein. In 
La demxh-e Aldini she has recounted the adventures of a lypi- 
cal artbt, an opera-singer, who had the good fortune to win 
the affection of a countess, and also, fifteen years afterwards, 
to fascinate her daughter, the last scion of a noble race ; but 
who had the courage and wisdom to resist the advances of both 
the ladi|s. On the other hand, the prosaic truth is sometimes 
told very plainly, and, we may perhaps say, coarsely. The artist 
is occasionally represented as neither very fortunate nor very vir- 
tuous. Lucrezia Floriani, a heroine of the noblest turn of mind, 
and as fine a modern Druidess as could be desired, has four chil- 
dren by three different fathers, who have all treated her badly. 
The accessories of the life are idealised more perhaps than 
the life itself; and much of the idealisation arises from art 
and artist-life be^ associated in George Sand's mind with 
recollections of Venice. She went there at a critical period of 
her life, after she had written Indiana, Val&niine, and LeUoy 
and therefore after she had the consciousness of recognised 
power to stimulate her, but before her mind was fully set and 
formed. Her imagination was much excited by a manner of 
life wholly new to her, and by a class of associations with 
which she previously had no acquaintance. Two influences 
more especially appear to have worked on her mind. There 
were the great buildings, the historical monuments, the famous 
works of art, in which Venice abounds ; and there was the life 
of the common people, with their vivacity, their Italian morals, 
and their vagabond gaiety. Consuelo shows how her observa- 
tion of the Venetian populace coloured her theory of artist- 
life, and the poetical feeling which from so many sides attaches 
itself to Venice threw a halo over all that she considered to be 
artistia In the portion of her writings relating to Venice 
there is the same combination of qualities that is observable 
throughout her works. There is the acuteness and common 
sense which guided her daily experience, and taught her to 
portray the early loves of Angoleto and Consuelo, — a picture 
of humble Venetian life at once so faithful to local truth, and 
to the general truth of human nature ; there is the vagueness 
of eloquent rhapsody, proceeding, however, from feelings which, 
if uncontrolled, are genuine ; and lastly, there is a real crea- 
tive and poetical power, of which perhaps the little tale of 
L^Orco is the most perfect expression. 

But if George Sand's love of art is neither very great nor 
very real, her love of nature is profound and genuine. Not only 
does she invest scenery with a sentimental colouring which, 
when not in excess, has an undoubted beauty, but she shows 
an intimate familiarity with country pleasures, and more espe- 

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George Sand. 67 

cially a native sympathy with the animated life that makes the 
dead rocks and trees inhabited and alive. In the first chapter 
of her autobiography, she tells us how dearly she has cherished 
through life a series of feathered pets, and how strange is the 
dominion which, as we have already said, she finds herself able 
to* exercise over them. One of the first anecdotes she records of 
her childhood is the gift of a live pigeon, which seemed to her 
an inestimable treasure. And in her latest novel, La Dahiella, 
she describes at that extraordinary length, to which most of her 
descriptions are spun out, the solace which the hero derived, 
when shut up in a lonely castle, from watching the butterflies 
play^ and feeding a goat that strayed about the building. She 
has also told us with what enthusiastic joy she used to roam on 
foot or on horseback over the wilds of Berry, when she first re- 
turned to Nohant after her return from the convent ; and trans- 
ferrii^ her recollections to one of the best of her heroines, she has 
worked up in Edmee a charming picture of a young light-hearted 
girl revelling in the first unchecked communion with nature, 
stimulated by fresh air and exercise, and excited by the spectacle 
of a varied scenery into the first sallies of meditative romance. 

How deeply she has been penetrated by what she has ob- 
served and known of human life in rural districts, is shown 
by her having made it the basis of a style of fiction perfectly 
new. She has written idyls true to life, masterly in art, and 
yet interesting. She began the series with Jeanne, a fanciful 
tale, of which the strange superstitions of the peasantry of the 
centre of France form the groundwork. The heroine is, how- 
ever, an exceptional peasant, a Joan of Arc undeveloped ; not 
to be tempted into marriage, and abiding with a simplicity, half 
sublime and half idiotic, by the terms of a strange vow, which, de- 
ceived by the trick of some idle travellers into thinking she has 
had an intimation from Heaven, she has made, to be chaste, poor, 
and humble. "Jeanne was,'' says the authoress, "one of those 
. pure types such as are still found in the country, which are so 
admirable and so mysterious that they seem made for a golden 
age. Such types are not sufficiently known. In painting they 
have been represented ; but poets have always disfigured them by 
wishing to idealise or change them, forgetting that their essence 
and their originality consist in its being impossible to do more 
than guess what they are." In Jeanne such a character is very 
skilfully worked out; but it would be difficult to believe that the 
heroine is not idealised, and, at any rate, she is avowedly ex- 
ceptional. In the later novels of the series. La Mare au Diable, 
La petite Fadette, and Franfois le Ghampif her aim has been to 
leave the exceptional for the ordinary, to seek for idyllic beau- 
ties in the extreme of pastoral simplicity, and to meJce her bu- 

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68 George Sand, 

colic happiness keep within the limits of what would be possible 
in every hamlet She depends for her effect upon analysing and 
exhibiting the play of the more innocent emotions. The love of 
a girl for a neighbour's little child in La Mai^e au Diable, the 
mutual love of twins in La petite Fadette, and maternal affec- 
tion in Francois le Champi, supply materials sufficiently piquant 
for the quiet pathos of an idyl. George Sand seems to get 
strength by touching the soil. Her tales of country life, and 
especially La Mare au Diahle, are the most perfect, though not 
perhaps the most interesting, that she has written. They are 
free from all that provokes censure in her other writings — from 
theories, from declamation, from indelicacy. They move as with 
a quiet flow that is irresistibly fascinating, and are full of beau- 
ties of language to which it is impossible to do justice. 

If we place side by side L4lia and La Mare au Diable, the 
novels most typical of her earlier and her later stages, and com- 
pare the audacity, the pruriency, the strong personal feeling 
manifested in the former with the sweet purity and artistic tran- 
quillity of the latter, we may see that during the period which 
elapsed between the two the authoress must herself have greatly 
changed. The spring of impetuous passion passes away, and the 
autumn of matured power and chastened wishes arrives. But 
although the change may be great and indisputable, yet it would 
be quite untrue to speak of George Sand as appearing under two 
phases wholly distinct There was always a mixture of purity 
with impurity, of sense with nonsense, of honest desire to be 
right with the most distorted conceptions of right and wrong, 
which was traceable throughout her earlier works; and the old 
fire of a mind struggling, suffering, doubting, hoping, loving, and 
hating, burns and shines through the quietude of her later talea 
View her from whatever side we may, and judge of her by what- 
ever of her novels we may chance to light on, we shall always 
leave her with mingled feelings of admiration and regret But 
if we look at her works as a whole, and read several of them in 
succession, her character, we think, will rise in our estimation, 
although the works themselves lose interest by their prolixity, 
their want of plot, and their surfeiting fullness of vague theoris- 
ing being thus forced on our notice. We catch through them 
glimpses of a woman with many faults, — haste, rashness, morbid 
sentimentalism, and a proneness to indulge in a secondhand 
philosophy often caught up from men inferior to herself, — but 
still in the main truthful ; loving in a blind and capricious way 
what is good; touched to the heart by the misfortunes of others; 
indignant at the sophistries and the success of polished vice and 
conventional virtue. If in the midst of the display of her great 
intellectual gifts she sometimes startles us by moral errors, she 

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Colonel Mure and the Attic Historians. 69 

never shocks us hj moral depravity. The more we try her by 
a foreign standard, and the better we appreciate the circum- 
stances under which she wrote, and the influences to which she 
was exposed, the more gently and sparingly we shall censure 


A Critical History of the Language and Literature of Ancient Greece, 
By William Mure of Caldwell. Vol. V, Loiidon, 1857. 

Colonel Mure^s History of the Language and Literature of An- 
cient Greece may well be accepted as a companion piece to Mr. 
Grote's history of its political and military progress. There is a 
wide difference, amounting, indeed^ to contrast, in the mode of 
treatment pursued by the two writers. The starting-point of each 
is widely different; what is primary with the one is secondary with 
the other; and the wide difference of opinions^ tastes, and general 
turn of mind between the two authors leads to an infinite number 
of collisions on individual points. Yet, by the student of Hellenic 
antiquity, the two works must be considered as making up one 
whole. Each fills up a void left by the other in the general pic- 
ture of the most wonderful nation which has ever appeared on 
earth. While each author continually treads upon the ground 
of the other, each has a ground which is indisputably his own. 
Within the limits of his own territory each is preeminently mas- 
ter ; each has his own proper department in which his strength 
lies; whenever either displays* weakness, it is commonly in the 
act of trespassing upon the dominions of the other. Mr. Grote and 
Colonel Mure are alike conspicuous for independence of thought 
and decision of expression; qualities which in both cases are 
pushed to the verge of a love of controversy and paradox. But 
the one is a political historian, the other is a literary critic. The 
great qualities of the one are depth and vigour; those of the other, 
elegance and acuteness. It is no wonder, then, that two such 
writers, each admirable in his own way, commonly meet only to 
differ when they get on the debatable ground which lies between 
them. Nor is it wonderful that either of them should occasionally 
stumble when he wanders too far into the territories of his neigh- 
bour. And as we may fairly r<^ard Mr. Grote^s scheme and pur- 
pose as, on the whole, a higher one than Colonel Mure's, it is not 
surprising if, on this debatable ground, Mr. Grote has, to our mind 
at least, commonly the advantage. In research, in conscientious- 
ness, in love of their subject, the two writers are fairly on a par j 

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70 Colonel Mure and the Attic Historians. 

each has his own distingaishing excellences, appropriate to his OTm 
special subject. But if we are, like Zeus, to weigh in the balance 
two writers, to each of whom Hellenic learning is so deeply in- 
debted, we can feel no sturprise at finding the more massive and 
capacious intellect of Mr. Grote occupying the weightier scale. 

Colonel Mure's great strength lies in the poets. The old 
Homeric controversy, over and over again as it has been debated, 
acquires a new life and interest in his hands. This part of his 
work is a triumph, not only of British learning, but of British 
common sense, over the vagaries which are too commonly in vogue 
among continental scholars. It is not too much to say, that both 
in Colonel Mure and in Mr. Grote birth and residence in a free 
country, familiarity with the pubUc Ufe of a free state, the pos- 
session of a seat in the British Parliament, have done much to 
foster the manly and practical turn of mind which, under different 
shapes, distinguishes them both. Colonel Mure is well versed 
in the literature of Germany, and, we believe, passed his own aca- 
demic years in a Grerman University, But it would be difficult to 
find any thing more thoroughly English, in the best sense, than his 
whole commentary on the Homeric poems. Mr. Grote did much 
to overthrow the extreme form of the Wolfian theory; Colonel 
Mure has, we think, pretty effectually destroyed it in all its parts. 
Points of controversy, feirly open to dispute, still remain between 
them. Do the Iliad and the Odyssey proceed from the same 
hand? Is the Iliad, as we have it, an expansion, whether by the 
original author or by some one else, of an earUer Achilleid ? How 
early were the poems committed to writing? These, and various 
others, are important questions, on which Mr. Grote and Colonel 
Mure decide different ways. But they really become mere points 
of detail when contrasted with a theory which can see no epic unity 
of design in either of those immortal poems. The points on which 
they differ may well be discussed for some time to come ; but we 
really trust that their combined judgment has for ever scattered 
to the winds the notion that the Iliad and Odyssey are mere bas- 
kets of fragments gathered up in comparatively recent times by 
the hands of Solon or Peisistratos. 

It is, we think, in his treatment of the Homeric poems that 
Colonel Mure displays his greatest strength. But for freshness 
and originality, the portion of his work which stands out most 
conspicuous is that in which he deals vriith the poets, most of them 
unfortunately only fragmentary, who fill up the space between 
Homer and Pindar. Here he has the ground almost wholly to 
himself. No other scholar, certainly no other English scholar, 
has ever produced so full and vivid a picture of Archilochos, Al- 
kaios, and Sappho. Colonel Mure's dealings with their precious 
fragments remind one of those of Professor Owen or Professor 

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Colonel Mure and the Attic Historians. 71 

Willis. As the one can i-econstmct an extinct animal from a 
single bone, and the other a destroyed building from a fragment 
of architectural detail, so Colonel Mure can set before us the fall 
proportions, intellectual and moral, of an extinct poet, out of a 
few lines which have hitherto afforded matter only for gram- 
matical or philological inquiry. And in all three, alike in the 
zoologist, the antiquary, and the critic, we can admire the ope- 
ration of combined tact, experience, and good sense. In all three 
cases the results are of a nature which few but their authors 
would have previously looked for, and which yet, when once 
stated, command immediate assent, and are never rejected as 
Tanciful or untrustworthy. To these poets Colonel Mure has 
rendered every service but one. It is wonderful that, with his 
knowledge of the language, his fine taste and acuteness, his ap- 
preciation of the minutest characteristics of the several authors, 
he still remains altogether incapable or unwilling to translate a 
piece of Greek verse or prose into appropriate, or even into ac- 
corate EngUsh.* 

* We shall hereafter come across some examples of this straoge deficiency as 
regards the authors with whom we are at present more immediately concerned. 
Bat lest our words should seem too strong, we cannot forbear quoting an instance 
from an earlier part of Colonel Mare's woric. In vol iii. p. 251, he quotes a lorely 
fragment of Stesichoros, to the beauty of which he yields all the admiration it 
deserres : 

*A4Kios ST *Tfr9piovi9as Hdras isKttrtficurt 

ii^Koift UgSa votI fiiyBta mfierbs iptfufcis' 
iroTt fiar4ga, KovptHiaif r* i\oxoUt 
waHAs Tc ^i\ous' 6 V 4s iXvos M^a 

woaffl wdis At6s, 

This Colonel More renders : 

Hyperion now his lofty car ascefnds, 

And o'er the trackless wave of Ocean bends 

His radiant coarse, to where night's sacred shades 

Heaven's light absorb; there, in his laurel glades, 

His mother, his fond spouse, and children dear, 

His daily toil with their sweet converse cheer. 

Now, first of all, in this rersion the beaatiful simplicity of the orieinal is alto- 
gether lost. Stesichoros says nothing about ** the trackless wave of Ocean,'* about 
** radiant course," or about ''heaven's light" being ** absorbed" by *' night's sacred 
shades." Moreover, the last line is entirely Ooloiwl Mure*s own composition. But 
these are comparatively light matters. First, *A4\tos 'Tircpior(8af is no more to 
be translated ** Hyperion," than Hi^XiiZiaSlw 'AxiA^os is to be translated "Peieus." 
Then Slwas does not mean a '*car," and isKarafialyw does not mean to ''ascend;'* 
nor is the matter mended by putting in a note that " the autbor, for the sake of 
his own verse, has taken the liberty of substituting car for cup" In fact, Stesi- 
€horoa* *' fantastic allegory relative to the sun's evening course in the heaven,** en- 
tirely disappears in Colonel Mnre's version. Then again, the last clause, whieh 
introduces a second character on the scene, vanishes under the translator's hands. 
Cokmel Mure makes " Hyperion" go to the laurel glades in a "car." In Stesi- 
ohoTos the person who goes there goes neither in a cop nor in a «air, but on foot 
(wocat). Moreover, the person who goes in either fashion is neither Hyperion 

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72 Colonel Mure and the Attic Historians, 

In the present volume, which is the Attic historians^ 
that is, mainly Thucydides and Xenophon, Colonel Mure neces- 
sarily invades Mr. Grote's domain more frequently and more ex- 
tensively than in the earlier parts of his work. He is here con- 
siderably less in his element than when dealing with Homer or 
Archilochos. His own forte, as we have implied, lies in strictly 
literary criticism; hence, in dealing with the poets, where manner 
is at least as important as matter, he is thoroughly at home. But 
a criticism piu^ly literary would be a very inadequate way of deal- 
ing with a great historian, above all with Thucydides, the great 
father of historical and political scienca Colonel Mure is neces- 
sarily driven to deal at some length with political and historical 
matters, and though even on these points he gives us much that is 
valuable, we can discern a marked inferiority alike to Mr. Grote^a 
treatment of the same themes, and to his own treatment of more 
congenial subjects. It is in his thorough grasp of all political mat- 
ters that Mr. Grote's greatness is preeminent. In Colonel Mure 
there is a sort of looseness and carelessness of thought and expres- 
sion upon such subjects, which shows itself in more ways than one.* 
Both Mr. Grote and Colonel Mure are most honourably distin- 
guished for the combination of profounij learning with the cha- 
racter of practical men of the world. But the immediate world 
of each of the two men is by no means the same. Mr. Grote's 
true sphere, the source of illustration to which his thoughts habitu- 
ally .'turn, is political life in its various forms. Colonel Mure has 
studied life with no less acuteness, but not so much in its poli- 
tical as in its social aspect. From this latter source he has drawn 

nor a son of Hyperion, but a son of Zeas (vdlf At6s\ no other, in short, than He- 
rakles himself. Colonel Mare has altogether eliminated not only the fiction of the 

golden cup in which the sun-god floated back from west to east after his day's toil, 
ut also we fact that Herakles was introduced in tbe poem at all. See Keightley's 
Mythology, p. 54, who giyes a version, less elegant doubtless, but considerably 
more accurate, than that of Colonel Mure : 

" Helios Hyperionides 
Into the golden cup went down; 
That, having through the Ocean passed, 
He to the depths of sacred gloomy night might come. 
Unto his mother and his wedded wife, 
And his dear children : but the grove with laurel shaded 
The son of Zeus went into." 

This is perfectly literal, except that Mr. Keightley also seems scandalised at a 
son of Zeus going '* on foot." Herakles, even by his own pillars, was not a Spanish 

* A thoroughly accurate thinker on Greek politics would hardly, as Colonel 
Mure constant^ does, apply the words " confederation," " federal,'* &c. to the 
state of things existing between the several Grecian cities ; he would not re- 
peatedly speak of the ^ council*' at Athens, when he means, not the senate, but 
the public assembly : perhaps he would not forestall ideas of a later age by spieak- 
ing of the Persian '* emperor." 

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Colonel Mure and the Attic Historians, 73 

much to illustrate the attributes of our common human nature 
as displayed among Greek philosophers and poets.* Colonel 
Mure, in short, has studied the Greek writers in the character of 
an accomplished gentleman, Mr, Grote in that of a professed po- 
litician. Few members of either class make so full and practical 
a use of their studies; but the diversity of the quarter from which 
each has commenced them is manifest throughout their writings. 

Our readers will therefore not be surprised to learn that 
Colonel Mure^s account of Thucydides is by no means one of 
the most successful portions of his work. Herodotus, of whom 
he treated in his preceding volume, is far more in his line; for 
Herodotus, though he wrote in prose, was a great poet. Of the 
two chief Attic historians. Colonel Mure is far more success- 
ful with Xenophon than with Thucydides. In fact, it is no dis- 
respect to say that Thucydides is too much for him. Much 
may be learned from various portions of Colonel Miu'e^s criti- 
cisms; wherever tact and acuteness are enough, he is still the 
Colonel Mure of the Homeric controversy. But the real great- 
ness of the KTtjfMa €9 ae/, one of the most astonishing of all the 
productions of the human intellect, can hardly be fuUy grasped 
by one who is obliged to regard it primarily from a purely literary 
point of view. 

It is, indeed, a marvellous thought, that Herodotus and 
Thucydides were contemporary writers, perhaps not so widely 
removed in age as is commonly the case between father and 
son. As Colonel Mure himself observes, an interval of centu- 
ries would seem to have elapsed between them. The question 
of their comparative merit can hardly arise; the two are totally 
different in kind. It would be about as easy to compare an old 
Greek, a writer of the middle ages, and a writer of our own 
time, Herodotus is a Greek of the fifth century b.c. His 
archaic tastes, indeed, make him rather a Greek of a century 

* Some of Colonel Mare** remarks drawn from this source are singularly acute 
and appropriate. Take, for instance, his comments on the excessive, apparently 
almost Pharisaical, denunciations of contemporafy rice by the historian Theo- 
pompos (vol. V. pp. 514,515). **Hi8 rituperatire attacks were chiefly directed 
against ihe luxury, sensuality, and social profligacy of the times, and of his more 
remarkable contemporaries, whose excesses he denounced with a vehemence, and 
described with a minuteness of detail, to which, even as exemplified in his re- 
mains, it would be difficult to find a parallel in any existing work of Greek 
manners. This very excess of virtuous irritation, and fondness for its display, 
may perhaps suggest a doubt how far it is to be taken as a manifestatiun of 
unmixed horror for the conduct stigmatised. In dealing with one who dealt so 
severely with others,«it may not be uncharitable to surmise, that his zeal may 
be made up, in part at least, of a certain spirit of negative morality, or even of 
morbid sympathy with the conduct described ; the same which in unconstrained 
social intercourse, often leads men to converse freely, and in a spirit of levity, on 
scenes at which they would fsel ashamed of being present, and practices in which 
they are themselves incapable of participating." 

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74j Colonel Mure and the Attic Historians. 

earlier. Xenophon is a Greek of the succeeding age; a far less 
favourable specimen, we need hardly add, than Herodotus. But 
Thucydides belongs to no age or country; he is the historian of 
our common humanity, the teacher of abstract political wisdom. 
Herodotus is hardly a political writer at all; his political com- 
ments are indeed, when they occur, invariably true and generous; 
but they are put forth with an amiable simplicity which ap- 
proaches to the nature of a truism. When he infers from the 
growth of Athens after the expulsion of her tyrants, that ^' free- 
dom is a noble thing,^^* the comment reads like that of an intelli- 
gent child, or like the reflection of an Oriental awakening to the 
realities of European life. Xenophon writes from the worst in- 
spiration of local and temporary party-spirit. He writes history, 
not to record facts or to deduce lessons, but, at whatever cost of 
truth and fairness, to exalt Agesilaos and to vilify the Thebans. 
But Thucydides, living in an age when the political life of 
man had barely occupied two centuries, seems to have derived 
from that brief period the lessons of whole millenniums. From 
the narrow field which lay before his eyes he could deduce a 
political teaching applicable to every age, race, and country. 
There is scarcely a problem of the science of government which 
the statesman may not find, if not solved, at any rate handled, 
in the pages of this imiversal master. The political experience 
of Thucydides could have exhibited to him only two sets of phe- 
nomena — ^the small city-commonwealth and the vast barbaric 
monarchy. But we feel that he would have been equally at home 
under any other state of things. If we could conceive Hero- 
dotus or Xenophon suddenly set down in the feudsd France or 
Germany of a past age, in the constitutional England or the 
federal America of our own time, every thing would doubtless 
bear in their eyes the air of an insoluble problem. But we can 
imagine Thucydides at once detecting reid analogy through ap- 
parent diversity, and recognising phenomena so different from 
any thing witlun his own experience as merely fresh exemplifi- 
cations of the general principles which he had deduced from 
another state of things. No truth seems more difficult of ac- 
ceptance than the doctrine that history is really one whole; 
that " ancient,^' " modern/^ " mediaeval,^^ mark convenient 
halting-places, and nothing more; that man*8 political nature 
is essentially the same under every variety of outward circum- 
stances. But no testimony more overwhelmingly confirms its 
truth thim the fact that the political wisdom of all ages was 
thus forestalled by the citizen of a small republic living twenty- 
three centuries ago. 

Neither Herodotus nor Thucydides were men of their own age. 

* il liniyopirt its itrri xpnM'^ otovSmp. Herod, v. 78. 

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Colonel Mure and the Attic Historians, 75 

The mind of Herodotus evidently lived in past times. The stem 
truth of chronology tells us that he was contemporary with Pe- 
rikles, perhaps with Alkibiades. But no one realises the fact 
while reading his enchanting chronicle. While so engaged, we 
fully believe him to have been an eye-witness of Marathon and 
Salamis. We are indeed hardly clear whether he may not have 
looked on at the return of Peisistratos, or even haye been in- 
visibly present in the sleeping-chamber of Kandaules. Nothing 
connects him with his own age, except a few brief, sparing, 
sometimes doubtful, references to events later than his main 
subject. The genial traveller of Halikarnassos loved to gather 
together, to set in dramatic order, to garnish with an occasional 
religious or moral sentiment, the antiquities and legends of every 
age and country except the Greece of the Peloponnesian war. His 
own age, we may believe, he laboured to forget; a more dignified 
form of affection for the past than that which displays itself in 
querulous longings after what is gone, and petulant sarcasms 
upon what is present. He is the liberal, well-informed anti- 
quary and scholar, who lives out of his own age; not the disap- 
pointed pohtician, who lives in it only to carp at every thing 
around or beyond him. 

In Xenophon, on the other hand, notwithstanding much 
that is personally attractive and estimable, we see, as a political 
writer, only the man of a particular time and place in the smallest 
and most malignant form of that character. Herodotus lived in 
the past, Thucydides lived for the future; Xenophon reflects 
only the petty passions of the moment. He writes not like a 
historian, whether antiquarian or pohtical, but Uke a petulant 
journalist who has to decry the troublesome greatness of an oppo- 
site party. Yet even his writings may indirectly guide to the same 
lesson as those of Thucydides. One teaches us that much of our 
modern wisdom might be reached by a powerful intellect while 
human thought waa yet in its infancy. The other shows that if 
old Greece could forestall modem political science, it could also 
forestall the pettiest forms of modern political animosity. Thu- 
cydides, without Xenophon, might make us place the ideal Greek 
historian at a superhuman height above us. Xenophon, without 
Thucydides, might lead us to degrade him to the level of a very 
inferior modem pamphleteer. But the two combined unite to 
teach die same lesson, that man is essentially the same every 
where ; that an old Greek was a being of like passions with a 
modem Englishman, each being alike capable of exhibiting, un- 
der the necessary modifications, the highest and the lowest phases 
of our common nature. 

In fact, no one can thoroughly appreciate Thucydides who 
does no't make use of Xenophon as a foil. 'Without comparing 

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76 Colonel Mure and the Attic Historians. 

the two, we might be led to suppdae that Thucydidean dignity 
and impartiality was an easy commonplace quality, not entitling 
its possessor to any particular commendation. When we turn to 
the Hellenics, we at once see how great were the temptations to a 
contrary course which surrounded a Greek writing contemporary 
history. How many opportunities must have occurred, and have 
been rejected, of colouring, omitting, exaggerating. How easy 
to have passed by the good or the bad deeds of one or the other 
party. How hard a task to keep the bitter revengeful spirit of 
the exile from appearing in every page. Thucydides, after all, 
was a man. He could not deal with perfect fairness between him- 
self and a bitter personal and political enemy ; but what does the 
utmost that can be made out against him amount to ? That he 
once pronounces a judgment which his own narrative does not bear 
out : in short that, though he never ceased to be a truthful wit- 
ness^ he had not attained that superhuman height of virtue which 
enables a man to be a perfectly fair judge in his own cause. 
Think of this one flaw, and compare it with the moral state of 
the man who could describe the Theban revolution without men- 
tioning the name of Pelopidas ; who, when recording at large 
the history of his own times, could dilate at impertinent length 
on the pettiest proceedings of his Spartan hero, and deliberately 
omit all mention of the deliverance of Messenia, and the founda^ 
tion of Megalopolis. Thucydides himself was not absolutely per- 
fect; but perhaps no other actor in important events ever related 
them with so great an amount of impartiality. In Xenophon 
we have to condemn not merely weakness and passion to an un- 
pardonable degree, but sheer want of common honesty, delibe-> 
rate violation of the first moral laws of the historian's calling. 

But the greatness of Thucydides is, after all, of a somewhat 
cold and unattractive character. He does not, like many other 
writers, draw us near to himself personally. What reader of 
Herodotus does not long for a personal conversation with the 
genial and delightful old traveller, who had been every where, 
and seen every thing ; who could tell you the founder of every 
city, and the architect of every temple ; who could recite oracles 
and legends from the beginnings of things to his own day ; and 
who would season all with a simple moral and political commen- 
tary, not the less acceptable for being a little commonplace? 
What would one not give for an opportunity of asking why it was, 
after all, that the Scythians blinded their slaves, or of finding out, 
in some unguarded moment, in honour of what deity the Egyp- 
tians submitted themselves to the discipline ? Xenophon, again, 
would evidently not have been the less agreeable a companion 
on account of his unpatriotic heresies and his historical unfair- 
ness. If he was a bitter enemy and an unscrupulous partisan^ 

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Colonel Mure and the Attic Historians. 77 

his very faults arose from carrying into excess the amiable cha- 
racter of a zealous friend. The pupil of Socrates was of necessity 
unfair to the government by which he was condemned \ the fol- 
lower of Agesilaos could not mete out common justice to those 
pestilent Thebans by whom all his policy was brou*?ht to nought. 
But Thucydides excites no feelings of the kind. We might have 
highly esteemed the privilege of sitting at his feet as a lecturer ; 
but we should hardly have been very desirous of his company in 
our lighter moments. Genial simplicity, hearty and unconscious 
humour are, after all, more attractive than the stern perfection 
of wisdom ; a little superstition, and a little party-spirit, if they 
render a man less admirable, do not always make him less agree- 
able. Impartiality is a rare and divine quality ; but a little hu- 
man weakness sometimes commends itself more to frail mortals. 
There is something lofty in the position of a man who records 
the worst deeds of Athenian and Lacedaemonian alike, as a sim- 
ple matter of business, without a word of concealment, pallia- 
tion, or reprobation for either. But we feel quite sure that He- 
lt)dotus would have told us that the massacre of Plataeae and 
the massacre of Melos were each of them a Trpyjjfia ovx oa-iov. 
We suspect that Xenophon would have been so ashamed of the 
evil deed of the side on which his own feelings might be enlisted, 
that he would not have recorded both crimes in his history. But 
•we get a little puzzled as to the moral condition of the man who 
elaborately dissects the characters of Themistokles and Perikles 
as intellectual and political subjects, without a word of moral 
praise or dispraise of either. Our perplexity is increased when 
we find the historian honestly recording the assassinations in 
which Antiphon was at least an accomplice, and yet pronoimcing 
this same Antiphon to have been inferior to none of his con- 
temporaries, — Konon and Kallikratidas included, — not only in 
ability but in virtue.* Herodotus woidd have lifted up his hands 
in pious horror; Xenophon would either have shirked so dis- 
agreeable a subject, or have at least discovered some ingenious 
sophism in palliation of the offence. Then, again, human nature 
does crave for something like religion, and does not always kick 
at a little superstition. We decidedly do not think the worse 
of Herodotus, Xenophon, Pausanias, and Arrian for believing in 
oracles, visions, and the whole art and mystery of divination. It 
• is perhaps very admirable, but it is not altogether amiable, in 
Thucydides to have got so far in advance of his age as to make it 
tolerably certain that he believed in nothing of the kind, and to 
leave it by no means clear whether he believed in any gods at 
all. Finally, we cannot forget, possibly even a contemporary 

* iperg Mwhs fhrrfpos, Thac. viii. c. 68. See Dr. Arnold's note on the passage. 

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78 Colonel Mure and the Attic Htstorians. 

Greek could not forget, how easy, how pleasant, it is to read 
Herodotus and Xenophon, how very difficult it often is to read 
Thucydides. We admire, but we cannot bring ourselves to love, 
the man who has clothed the words of wisdom with a veil so dif- 
ficult to uplift. We are sometimes tempted to prefer a teaching 
less profound in substance, but more conformable to the ordinary 
laws of human or Hellenic grammar. There is no denying thiut 
a speech of Thucydides is far more profitable than one of Xeno- 
phon, or even than one of Herodotus. But there are moments 
of weakness in which one prefers pleasure to profit, — the 1781; to 
the xP^o-t/AOF, — and in which even the repeated exhortations of 
Perikles to prefer deeds to words make us for a moment prefer 
the cuYdyia-fia €9 to Trapaj^TJfia even to the KrijjMa €9 aei. 

In fact, this wonderful intellectual superiority of Thucydides 
to his own age, and indeed to the mass of men in any age, while 
it makes his history the eternal treasure-house of political wisdom, 
makes him, in some incidental points, less instructive than a very 
inferior writer might have been, as the immediate chronicler of 
his own particular age. Colonel Mute truly remarks^ that the 
Greek historians did not commonly look on the internal politics c^ 
the several states as coming within their province. A knowledge 
of them is taken for granted in a well-informed Greek reader. 
The historian, for the most part, deals only with the cities in 
their international, or what might more properly, as Mr. Grote 
suggests, be called their interpolitical aspect. It is only when 
internal revolutions bear on foreign affairs that they are recorded 
at any length. Thus Thucydides recounts the Athenian revo- 
lutions of the year 411 in full detail, because the part taken in 
them by the fleet at Samos brings them within the immediate 
sphere of his military narrative. But in his Summary he does 
not devote a line to the constitutional changes introduced by 
Aristeides, Ephialtes, and Perikles, though he records military 
and diplomatic events certainly not of greater importance. EJeon, 
Nikias, Alkibiades, are only introduced when they begin to have 
an influence on foreign aflairs. Of the assaAilts on Perikles by 
Kleon, of the demagogues who appeared for a brief space in 
the interval between the death of the one and the confirmed in- 
fluence of the other, Thucydides tells us not a word. Still less, 
as Colonel Mure observes, does he vouchsafe any direct informa- 
tion as to the literary, artistic, and philosophic being of Athena 
in her greatest splendour. We should never have learned firom 
him that iEschylus, Euripides, Pheidias, or Anaxagoras ever ex- 
isted. From Thucydides alone we should never have found out 
that the Sophokles who figures as an admiral in the Samian war 
was at least not less illustrious as the author of the CBdipus and the 
:£!lectra. Had Thucydides lived to reooimt the tale of Arginousai, 

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Cokmel Mure and the Atiifi Historians. 79 

we may veil doubt whether the name of Sokrates would have 
occurred in his report of the great debate on the amendment of 
Earyptolemos. One might have expected that the adversary of 
Kleon would have looked with some sympathy on the author of 
the Knights ; but the name of Aristophanes nowhere occurs in 
the history of the Peloponnesian war. Even in dealing with 
Perikles^ his great artistic works appear only in the melancholy 
position of items in a budget. Possibly, to* be sure. Sir Corne- 
wall Lewis may look with no other eye on the new houses of 
parliament and the designs for the public offices. Even the 
jHctores of the heroes of lus narrative are in a manner imperfect, 
because they appear solely as political and military entities. We 
see in all his greatness ^e Perikles who guided the democracy 
through the horrors of war and pestilence. But we hear nothing 
of the lover of Aspasia, of the founder of the Parthenon, nothing 
erea of th^ reformer who levelled the last relics of oligarchy, 
and substituted the popular tribunal for the venerable senate 
on the Hill of Ares. 

On all these points we should doubtless have learned much 
more firom either the earlier or the later historian. Had Hero* 
dotus deigned to record the events of his own age, his very love 
of genial gossip would have led him to describe a great deal on 
which Thucydides preserves a dead silence, and which we have 
to pick up secondhand from Plutarch and other inferior writers. 
Herodotus may, as Mr. Grot« has shown, not have understood 
the fuU depth and meaning of the democratic changes of Kleis- 
thenes. But he has at least recorded their outward forms, while 
Thucydides has not done even thus much by the further changes 
which brought the work of Kleisthenes to completion. We can 
hardly £eincy that the antiquary who was so curious about the 
shrines of the Samian Hera and the Egyptian Ammon could 
have been altogether blind to the structure reared under his own 
eye to the Athena of the Akropolis. He who has recorded the 
innovations made by Kleisthenes of Sikyon in the choric ritual 
of his own city, could hardly have listened unconcerned to the 
strains which told the glories of Kolonos, or those which hurled 
the overwhelming burst of satire upon the head of the devoted 
Paphlagonian. Still less can we fancy the prose narrator of the 
fight of Salamis listening, without at least a generous rivalry, to 
the tale of defeat as told in the palace of Susa, or to the picture of 
the glories of Persia under the sway of the, in his own tale, less 
divine and invincible Darius. Thucydides either cared for none 
of these things, or unluckily thought them *' beneath the dignity 
of history .^^ If the old Halikamassian could but have been 
brought to deal with things of his own time, we feel sure that 
his less exalted standard would have admitted an enchanting pic- 

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80 Colonel Mure and the Attic Historians. 

ture of the social and artistic as well as the political aspect of 
Athens in the days of her glory. 

And as with Herodotus, so, in another way, with Xenophon. 
The smaller historian has appropriately allotted to him the 
smaller hero. But Xenophon gives us a far more vivid picture 
of Agesilaos than Thucydides gives us of Perikles. In the one 
we simply admire the statesman, in the other we are brought 
into daily intercourse with the man. And again the tendency 
to personal gossip incidentally helps us to valuable political in- 
formation. We doubt whether Thucydides would have enlight- 
ened us as to the singular and discreditable means by which 
Sphodrias escaped the punishment of his unprovoked and treach- 
erous inroad into Attica. Xenophon, in blind zeal for his hero, 
lets us behind the curtain, and thereby shows us what strange 
causes might affect the course of justice amid the secret work- 
ings of an oligarchy, and how much personal influence lay within 
the reach of a king who retained hardly a shadow of constitu- 
tional power. Again, while we reverence the set speeches of 
Thucydides for the deep teaching which they contain, we cannot 
but feel that the shorter and livelier addresses and rejoinders pre- 
served or invented by Xenophon give us a truer picture of the 
real tone of a debate in a Greek assembly. And though a cri- 
tical judgment may condemn, with Colonel Mure, his profiision 
of small dialogue and petty personal anecdote, we cannot at this 
distance of time regret any thing which helps to give us a more 
perfect picture of the manner and tone of feeling of an age from 
the hand of a contemporary and an actor. 

In the above rapid sketch of the most striking characteristics 
of the three leading Greek historians, we should find it diflScnlt 
to say how much has and how much has not been suggested to 
our minds by the criticisms of Colonel Mure. On the whole, as. 
we have implied, he strikes us as not doing ftdl justice to Thu- 
cydides. Yet we do not feel obliged to follow the example of a 
certain Mr. Shilleto of Cambridge, an old enemy of Mr. Qrotc's, 
and suggest, with analogous impertinence, an alternative between 
Thucydides and Mure. Colonel Mure, though not a Cambridge 
man, would, we imagine, be recognised, even by Mr. Shilleto, as 
a respectable Greek scholar, and we believe that he votes on the 
Conservative side of the House. He is therefore not liable to 
the same degree of contempt as one who, whatever his learning 
and depth of thought, must still plead guilty to the unpardon- 
able offences of being at once a Radical politician and not inva- 
riably sound in his Greek particles. To those who have been 
offended with the ignorance and self-sufficiency of Mr. Shilleto's 
attack on Mr. Grote, there is a certain satisfiaction in finding 
Colonel Mure arraigning Thucydides on far wider grounds than 

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Colonel Mure and the Attic Historians. 81 

Mr. Grote has done. He completely endorses Mr. Grote's ar- 
guments on the only points in which the Cambridge verbalist 
could detect an apparent difference between the ancient and 
the modem historian. Any one who sees in Thucydides a 
great historian^ and not a mere subject for a verbal lecture in 
Attic Greek, will perceive at once that the veracity of Thucy- 
dides is nowhere called in question by Mr*. Grote. All that Mr. 
Grote assumes is, that he has allowed personal feelings to colour 
his inferences from facts, while it is not even suggested that he has 
reported the facts inaccurately. Because we owe so much to Thu- 
cydides, people commonly leap to the conclusion that his ban- 
ishment by the Athenian people must have been unjust. Mr. 
Grote ventured for the first time to think that his own narra- 
tive of his command at Amphipolis and Eion affords no ground 
for arraigning the judgment of his countrymen. Kleon, ugain, 
was a personal and political enemy of Thucydides. He is well 
nigh the only person in speaking of whom the historian deserts his 
usual unimpassioned dignity, so as seldom to mention him with- 
out some disparaging expression. Mr. Grote was bold enough 
to hint that the historian^s prejudice had coloured, not indeed 
his narrative, but his commentary ; and that his own statement 
of the case did not fiilly bear out his unfavourable judgment. 
When we consider how Mr. Grote has been assailed for these 
two vigorous exercises of independent thought, it is certainly not 
a little satisfactory to find Colonel Mure corroborating his views 
on the first point most completely, and on the second to a 
considerable extent. We should of course never think for a 
moment of placing Colonel Mure on the level of Mr. Shilleto; 
but he certamly seems to take a pleasure in differing from Mr. 
Grote wherever he can. His testimony in his favour is therefore 
of the greater value. Colonel Mure tells us that he examined the 
question of Thucydides^ command in Thrace entirely for himself, 
and did not refer to the commentaries either of Bishop Thirl- 
wall or Mr. Grote till he had completed his own. He thus ap- 
pears as a totally independent witness,, confirming Mr. Grote^s 
view on every essential point. The case, in fact, is perfectly plain. 
When Amphipolis was threatened, the Athenian commander 
ought to have been nowhere but at Amphipohs ; least of all at 
Thasos, which the land-force of Brasidas did not and could not 
threaten. He is at the very least called on to show cause why 
he was any where else, and such cause he nowhere attempts to 
show. Colonel Mure goes a step farther than Mr. Grote, and 
hints very broadly what the real cause was* Thucydides, as he 
himself tells us, was a mining proprietor in that part of the 
world. Colonel Mure ventures to say : 

" May not this very fact, his extensive interest as a proprietor in 


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82 Colonel Mure and the Attic Historians. 

that extremity of his province, furnish an explanation of his preference 
of Thasus to Amphipolis or Eion as his head-quarter 1 The centre of 
the Thracian mining district, where his own possessions were situated, 
was Scaptesyle, on the coast immediately opposite Thasus ; and the 
principal town and port of that island was also the chief emporium of 
the mineral trade of Thrace. In the absence, therefore, of all other 
apparent motive for his being stationary in the extreme* north of his 
province, while Brasidas was conquering the principal cities of its 
south and centre, it is not very uncharitable to suppose that the fault 
laid to his charge, and not without reason, was his having been more 
occupied with his own afiairs than with his official duties, at a time 
when the latter had an imperative claim on his undivided attention*', 
(p. 40.) 

Now as to Kleon. Every scholar will remember how stre- 
nuously Mr. Grote has laboured to effect something like a vin- 
dication of that much-reviled personage. After all, Mr. Grote 
leaves much in his character open to blame; but it may be 
called a vindication of the demagogue as compared with the 
estimation in which he has been held by every previous writer. 
Colonel Mure^s dealings with this point are somewhat curious. 
In p. 44 he classes Mr. Grote among " admirers or apologists of 
the Athenian democracy/^ who '^have endeavoured to vindicate 
Cleon at the expense of Thucydides." The question, he tells ua, 
'^ resolves itself pretty much into a comparative estimate of the 
character of Cleon for political discretion and military genius, and 
that of Thucydides for historical truthfulness/' ^^ The theory of 
Cleon's vindicators'' implies that Thucydides was " guilty of de- 
liberate misrepresentation;" it gives ''him credit not only for 
dishonesty, but for a disregard of his own fair fame, scarcely con- 
ceivable even in a dishonest man moderately gifted with common 
sense." Now this is really too much in the Shilletonian vein to 
be worthy of a writer like Colonel Mure. Mr. Grote does no- 
thing whatever of what is here attributed to him. He nowhere 
accuses Thucydides of misrepresentation or dishonesty. He fully 
accepts his narrative, both as to the scene in the Assembly, and 

* We must confess that we do not understand Colonel Mure's geography. 
How is Thasos the " extreme north of his province" more than Amphipolis ? 
Does Colonel Mure suppose that Amphipolis lies ** south'* of Thasos ? He says 
so directly in the preceding page. ** It (Thasos) la^ as far from Amphipolis to 
the north, as the scene of we Sj^rtan warrior's earliest successes from the same 
city to the south." Now Akanthos, the city previously won by Brasidas, cer- 
tamly lies as nearly as possible due south of Amphipolis. The island of Thasos 
lies, not north, but south-east. The island, as a whole, is decidedly south of 
Amphipolis; the citv of Thasos, in the extreme north of the island, is very nearly 
on the same parallel as Amphipolis, but still a little south of it. We are afraid 
Colonel Mure is rather careless of these points. In p. 133 he speaks of ** the 
Thracian potentate Arrhibseus/' He was a Macedonian of Lynkestis {Thuc, iv. 
124), on the side of Macedonia farthest from Thrace. 

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Colonel Mure and the Attic Historians. 83 

as to the campaign at Pylos. He simply thinks that, for once, 
personal enmity has hetrayed Thucydides into a comment which 
his own statement does not bear out. Thucydides says that a 
certain scheme was " insane/' which his own narrative shows to 
have been quite feasible. Mr. Grote refuses to believe either the 
satires of Aristophanes or the invectives of Thucydides, because 
he holds that the facts, as reported by Thucydides himself, do 
not justify them. Aristophanes represents Kleon as stealing 
away the well-earned prize from Demosthenes. Certainly no 
one would find this out from the fourth book of Thucydides. 
Aristophanes represents Kleon as winning his influence over the 
people by the basest and most cringing flattery. Thucydides puts 
into his mouth a speech, on the aflair of Mitylene, which advo- 
cates indeed a detestable line of policy, but which, of all speeches 
in the world, is the least like that of a flatterer of the people. 
In fact, it is a bitter invective against the people. Nothing that 
Demosthenes did say, nothing that Perikles can have said, could 
surpass the boldness of the censures passed on his own auditors. 
The exact amount of historic reality attachiag to the Thucydidean 
orations is very doubtftd, and probably differs much in individual 
cases. But we may be quite sure that Thucydides would not put 
into the mouth of Eicon a speech more austere and dignified than 
became his character. Colonel Mure appeals to the unanimous 
testimony of antiquity against Elleon. But that unanimous testi- 
mony reduces itself into the history of Thucydides and the comedy 
of the Knights. All that later writers can do, is to repeat the 
judgment of Kleon's contemporary adversaries. Now it is not, as 
Colonel Mure says, by a "purely speculative argument^' that Mr. 
Grote endeavours to reverse that judgment. It is by an appeal 
to the fects of the case as one of his adversaries has recorded them. 
After all this, we are indeed surprised to find the following 
remarks in a later stage of Colonel Mure's work : 

^' The remarks suggested by the historian's character of Cleon have 
been partly anticipated in a previous page. It is the only ooe in his 
treatment of which he has shown a disposition to enlarge on defects. 
In other cases he dwells rather on the bright than the dark side of the 
picture. His best vindication from the charge of having in this single 
instance been actuated by malicious motives to swerve from the 
trath, is the fact already noticed, that the defects stigmatised are the 
same, both in kind and degree, which with singular unanimity have 
been ascribed to Cleon by all other authorities. Another evidence of 
impartiality is the circumstance, that while those authorities represent 
the whole career of the demagogue as one unmitigated course of folly 
or mischief, Thucydides gives him credit for a conduct in some of his 
undertakings not very easy to reconcile with the incapacity displayed 
in others. The apparent inconsistency implies at least a disposition 

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84 Colonel Mure and the Attic Htstorians. 

to award him such merit as he really possessed. In his campaign of 
Amphipolis, Cleou certainly figures in a contemptible light, both as a 
soldier and a general. But his other military operations are not re- 
presented as open to censure. Thucydides, indeed, withholds from him 
the merit of having made good his insane promise* to capture the 
Spartan garrison of Sphacteria. He describes Demosthenes as having 
already matured his measures for the success of that enterprise, and as 
the director-in-chief of their execution. But there is no hint of Cleon^ 
as the honorary commander-in-chief on the occasion, having shown any 
want of capacity or courage. In the early part of his ensuing Thraciau 
campaign, his operations are represented not only as successful, but as 
well planned and vigorously executed. He even, on one important oc- 
casion, outmanoeuvred the formidable Brasidas, by whom he was after- 
wards defeated ; and, by a curious coincidence, much in the mode in 
which Thucydides' himself had been discomfited not long before by the 
same able adversary" (pp. 146, 7). 

After reading the above^ one might almost think that Colonel 
Mure had suddenly become a convert to the theory of Mr. Grote. 
Eleon has ceased to be utterly contemptible; indeed^ Colonel 
Mure gives him credit for a much greater amount of military 
conduct than Mr. Grote ventures to claim for him. He has be- 
come alive to the curious ieici that Kleon is the one person whom 
Thucydides picks out for censure. But he will not believe that 
the censure is ill-founded, because '^all other authorities'' con- 
firm it with " singular imanimity.'' We do not know who the 
" other authorities'' are, except Aristophanes. But in his very 
next sentence Colonel Mure practically sets aside their judgment 
as not borne out by the facts. What more could Mr. Grote desire? 

After all, what is the accusation against Thucydides? Simply^ 
as we have already said, that, though he has nowhere misstated 
facts, he has in one instance allowed political or personal pique 
to warp his judgment. All honour to the contemporary historian 
against whom this is the heaviest charge ! Think of the temp- 
tations, not merely to a single false judgment, but to constant 
misrepresentation of fact, which beset every political chronicler ; 
above all, those which beset a Greek of the Peloponnesian War. 
Think, in a word, what Xenophon was — what Thucydides might 
have been, and was not. We may well admit that Thucydides 
was prejudiced against Kleon, and that he himself failed of his 
duty at Amphipolis, without derogating one jot from the value 
and impartiality of his immortal Instory. 

We have now to make some farther comments on Colonel 
Mure's treatment of Thucydides, and especially to point out 
some respects in which he seems to us to have unduly derogated 
from his merits. 

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Colonel Mure and the Attic Historians. 85 

We think that Colonel Mure has, in the first chapter of his 
present volume, made out a good case in favour of his position, 
that Thucydides was not only well acquainted with the history of 
Herodotus, but that he also took for granted a similar acquaint- 
ance with it on the part of his readers. He not only, in some 
places, seems directly to aim at real or supposed inaccuracies on 
the part of the earlier writer, but he seems in others silently to 
make his own work a complement to that of his predecessor. 
Where the two narratives coincide. Colonel Mure has shown that 
Thucydides passes by those parts of the tale which had been fiilly 
narrated by Herodotus, and confines his own functions to con- 
tinidng or to filling up deficiencies. This seems to us to militate 
very strongly against the late date which Colonel Mure, in oppo- 
sition to Mr. Grote, is disposed to assign to the composition of 
the history of Herodotus. It really seems to us to teU far more 
strongly one way than any difficulties about the Egyptian king 
Amyrtaios tell the other. According to Colonel Mure, Herodotus 
wrote his history so late as to allude therein to events which took 
place so near the dose of the Peloponnesian War as 408 b.c. 
Had so short an interval elapsed between the composition of the 
two histories, that of Herodotus could hardly have become so 
generally known to the Greek public at large, that Thucydides 
could safely assume a familiarity with it on the part of his readers. 
In those days of uncial manuscripts, without publishers, circulat- 
ing-libraries, or reviews, a book could not make its way in the 
world quite so fast as the writings of Lord Macaulay or Dr. Li- 
vingstone. Colonel Mure himself has argued that the work of 
Herodotus was especially slow in obtaining popularity. This 
might indeed agree with Colonel Mure's view as to what he looks 
upon as one or two ill-natured allusions on the part of Thucy- 
dides ; but it seems quite inconsistent with the idea that he silently 
adapted his work to act as a continuation to that of Herodotus. 
Colonel Mure has, in his former volume, very powerfully attacked, 
perhaps he has altogether upset, the common legend of Herodotus' 
recitation of his history at the Olympic Games; but we do not 
think that he has upset, but rather that he has powerftdly con- 
firmed, the opinion that Herodotus published his history by some 
process or other, at any rate during an early stage of the Pelo- 
ponnesian War. 

Colonel Mure attacks Thucydides, we think with some in- 
justice, on the ground of his episode about the Peisistratidai in 
the sixth book. We can easily agree with him that the Thu- 
cydidean episodes are not very happily brought in. The fact is, 
that in a discursive composition like that of Herodotus, all sorts 
of episodes, and any number of them, are perfectly appropriate. 
But in the more formal piroduction of Thucydides, the few which 

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86 Colonel Mure and the Attic Historians. 

occur are certainly felt to be excrescences. We may also allow 
that Thucydides had some special weakness, whether personal, 
political, or literary, for dealing with this special subject and 
with the popular errors relating to it. But Colonel Mure's 
particular objections to the matter and argument of this par- 
ticular episode seem to us quite wanting in force. His remarks 
are as follows: 

" In noticing the charge against Alcibiades, of being concerned in 
the mutilation of the Hermse, Thucydides accounts in the following 
terms for the intense excitement which prevailed in Athens on that 
occasion: ' For the Athenians, knowing by tradition the harshness 
which had marked the tyranny of Pisistratus jind his sons towards its 
close, and also that its abolition was not the act of the people or of 
Harmodius, but of the Lacedemonians, had been ever since, on occa- 
sions of this kind, peculiarly open to suspicion and alarm.' Then fol- 
lows, in closer illustration of the cause of this feeling, the episode in 
question, narrating the transactions preceding the extinction of the Pi- 
sistratian dynasty ; and in particular, how the murder of Hipparchus 
by the hand of Harmodius had been committed during the Panathe- 
naic festival, the ceremonies of which had been turned to account by 
the conspirators in disarming suspicion and effecting their purpose. 
After following out the results of their act of tyrannicide to the depo- 
sition of Hippias, the historian resumes his former narrative, by the 
subjoined application of the case of Harmodius and the Panathenaica to 
that of Alcibiades and the Hermee : 'The remembrance of which things 
having been deeply imprinted at the time, and constantly renewed by 
tradition in the minds of the Athenians, rendered them keenly alive to 
any tampering with their sacred ceremonial, and rigorous in calling to 
account those suspected of such practices, which were inseparably asso- 
ciated in their thoughts with plots to establish oligarchal or tyrannical 
governments '"(p. 131). 

As usual — we are sorry to say it, but truth will out — Colonel 
Mure cannot, or will not, translate his Greek. He here, as it 
seems to us, first misconceives the generalbearing of the whole pass- 
age, and then mistranslates particular clauses into agreement with 
the general misconception. Colonel Mure supposes Thucydides 
to be talking of the special fear of the Athenians of any tamper- 
ing with their religious ceremonial. What he is really speaking 
of is the general dread of tyranny which they felt or were said 
to feel, and which is keenly satirised by Aristophanes. With 
this feeling a strong sensitiveness about their religious cere- 
monial was united by a connection of ideas strange to us, but 
which Mr. Grote has fully explained. In the Attic mind any 
thing savouring of false doctrine, heresy, and schism, was held 
to be quite sufficient evidence of sedition, privy conspiracy, and 
rebeUion. The blasphemer or profane person wouU alienate 

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Colonel Mure and the Attic Historians. 87 

the favour of the gods, and so jeopard the prosperity of the 
state. Hence the inference that men who overthrew Hermai 
and polluted mysteries were going about to establish oligarchy 
or despotism. But Thucydides is not commenting on this pe- 
culiar vein of combined religious and political sentiment; he 
assumes it, while enlarging on the general dread of tyranny. 
Hence Colonel Mure^s question, "what analogy is there be- 
tween the case of the tyrannicides and that of Alkibiades?'^ 
falls to the ground. Thucydides, or the Demos of whom he 
speaks, was not trying to set up any analogy between Alki- 
biades (if it was Alkibiades) and the tyrannicides, but between 
Alkibiades and the tyrants. And the reference to the fact that 
the tyrants were really expelled by the Lacedaemonians is very 
&r from having, as Colonel Mure implies, nothing to do with 
the matter. The general line of argument in the popular mind 
is this: " These men commit sacrilege; therefore (by the process 
of reasoning explained above) they want to set up a tyranny. 
But we will have no tyranny. Tyrants are very terrible persons, 
and very hard to get rid of. The Peisistratidai were very op- 
pressive, and we could not get rid of them without Lacedae- 
monian help. What will happen, if we have a tyranny now, 
when the Lacedaemonians are against us?^^ This is the general 
argument; only Thucydides confuses it by going out of his way 
to correct certain errors of detail in the popular conception of 
the event. A modem writer would have thrown such a digres- 
sion into a note or an appendix. Thucydides was obliged either 
to leave it alone or to intrude it upon his text. In the text it is 
certainly very much out of its place; but it produces no such 
'^ palpable inconsistency^^ as Colonel Mure supposes. There is 
not even that previous inconsistency which he is half disposed 
to " allow to pass.'' '' The popular Athenian public '' supposed 
that Hipparchos was actually in possession of the tyranny, and 
that Harmodios and Aristogeiton were actuated by patriotic 
motives. "More critical inquirers'' believed that Hipparchos 
was only brother to the reigning tyrant, and that his death was 
owing to private enmity. But Thucydides does not represent 
the " popular Athenian public" as ignorant of the fact that the 
tyranny was ultimately suppressed by Lacedaemonian agency. 
His argument is perfectly sound and consistent, only he has 
unluckily confused it by an irrelevant digression. If he is in 
any way blameworthy, it is for the palpably inconclusive argu- 
ment by which he attempts to establish the seniority of Hippias 
over Hipparchos.* The probability is, that Thucydides, from 
family connection or some other cause, had preserved a more 
accurate tradition of these events than that generally current at 

♦ yL 55. 

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88 Colonel Mure and the Attic Historians. 

Athens. He thought^ however^ that his mere ipse dixit might not 
carry sufficient weight against popular belief. He therefore felt 
bound to strengthen his case by some sort of ailment or other ; 
but he could unluckily find none better than those which he 
has inserted^ and which are among the few weak things in his 

And now for a word on Colonel Mure's translation. That 
certainly favours his own view^ that the point of connection is 
the " tampering of religious ceremonial^-' alike by the tyranni- 
cides and by the Hermokqpids. But not so the text of Thu- 
cydides. Colonel Mure says that the Athenians ^'had ever 
been^ on occasions of this land, peculiarly open to suspicion and 
alarm/' '* Occasions of this kind'^ doubtless means '^ occasions 
of tampering with religious ceremonial.^' But Thucydides^ like 
Aristophanes^ goes much farther^ and accuses them^ truly or 
falsely^ of being open to suspicion and alarm^ not only on 
occasions of this kind^ but on all occasions: i^fielro ael koL 
iravra {nroirrto^ iKafi/Saye.* Similarly the second passage 
given in inverted commas by Colonel Mure in no way re- 
presents the corresponding passage of Thucydides. It stands 

iv €vdvfiovfi€yoc 6 ^^/tioc 6 tUv 'AdiyvcucuF, Kal fjLifivrjtrKSfiiyoc 6<ra 
dicojf vepl ahrwy lyTrioTaro, j^aXcTOc rjv rore koX uxoTrriyc h tovc vEpi r&v 
fiverrticQy tt)v alriav XaP^vroQ, koI iravra avro«c i^oicu iirl (,vvv}fioai^ 
6\tyafy)(iK^ ical rvpawurp 7£irpd)(0ai.-j* 

How Colonel Mure can get his English out of the above piece of 
Greek, we are quite at a loss to conjecture. 

Nor are these by any means the only, though they are per- 
haps the most important, instances in which Colonel Mure 
altogether fails to reproduce either the substance or the manner 
of Thucydides in the passages which he selects for translation. 
Thus, with regard to Peisistratus and his sons in this very episode, 
Thucydides says that the latter t^v w6\iv ain&v Ka\&^ oieKoa- 
/jLriaay,X ^ Herodotus, in the parallel passage, & had spoken of 
their father as one who iirl roi^ Kareore&ai ivefie rrpf iroktVy 
KOiTfiecDv KaXm re /caX ei. Colonel Mure,|| in both places, trans- 
lates Ste/coa/jLTfcav and KOiTfiioDv by *' adorned the city beautifully,** 
Surely the verb has nothing to do with the unfinished temple 
of Olympian Zeus, but with the general character of the Peisis- 
tratid government. Surely it means, as Liddell and Scott sup- 
port us in holding that it means, not that they adorned the 
city beautifully, but that they ruled the city well. And when 
he is not thus positively inaccurate, his translations never re- 

♦ vi, 53. t vi- 60. X Ti. 54. § i. 59. ▼• 31- 

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Colonel Mure and the Attic Historians. 89 

produce in the least d^ree the style and spirit of the author. 
Yet it is more especially important that they should do so in a 
vork like the present, in which they are cited directly as literary 
specimens, and not merely for the sake of the information which 
they contain. Colonel Mure is particularly careless about those 
little technicalities of the age, which it is every where desirable to 
retain. When a modem writer, dealing with a mediaeval chro- 
nicler, translates " Be^Francorum^^ by " King of France ;^^ when 
he talks of an emperor of Germany y or converts the 'PfOfjuaioi 
of a Byzantine author into Greeks ; he is destroying so many 
touches which express the diplomacy of the age. Colonel Mure is 
guilty of nearly the same fault when he translates^ the MrjSta-fio^ 
of Thucydides by " traitorous intercourse vnth the Persian king.^^ 
Herodotus and Xenophon, both of them oriental antiquaries, 
correctly call the dominant Asiatic tribe Persians ; Thucydides 
retains the common phrase of the general Greek public, and 
speaks of the Medes. A little lowerf Thucydides speaks of IliSvav 
Tiyi' 'AXe^dvBpov; — Colonel Mure obliterates this characteristic 
designation, by translating "the Macedonian port of Pydna.^' 
Probably the Athenians of the age of Themistokles talked of 
Alexander and his country much as we now talk of Scindiah 
and Holkar, or in the same way that " Baldwines land'' is the 
common designation of Flanders in the Saxon Chronicle. Two 
chapters on, we find in Thucydides the phrase, Mayvrja-itf r^ 
*A<riavf} ; — Colonel Mure renders it " Magnesia in Asia Minor .'^ 
Now here is a twofold error. First of all, Asia Minor is a desig- 
nation not in use for ages after the time of Thucydides ; secondly, 
this rendering obliterates the accurate geographical precision of 
the historian. Colonel Mure can hardly need to be told that 
there are two cities equally answering to his description of 
'^ Magnesia in Asia Minor,'' only one of which answers to that 
of Thucydides, Ma^vTfa-la 17 ^Aaiavij. Thucydides means Mag- 
nesia in Asia, in the very narrowest sense of that last word, the 
district near Ephesos. Colonel Mure's description would equally 
suit the more northern city of Magnesia by Sipylos, £rom which 
Thucydides wishes to distinguish it. 

There are numerous other points in which Colonel Mure, as 
it seems to us, misunderstands or fails to appreciate either Thu- 
cydides or his subject He is the first writer that we know of 
who has tried to disparage either the funeral oration of Peri- 
kles, or the narrative of the battles ia the harbour of Syracuse. 
Colonel Mure makes himself quite merry J over the latter, and 
patches up his case by translating (vyairovevoyres^ by the im- 
dignified phrases of " liobbing" or " ducking" I As for the fune- 

• V. 155, t Thuc. i. 137. t PP- 176, 177. § Thuc. vii. 71. 

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90 Colonel Mure and the Attic Historians. 

ral oration^ our sense of Nemesis receives some satisfaction when 
we find that Colonel Mure, after attacking the opposition between 
" deeds^' and " words^^ in the oration as a mere vagary of Thu- 
cydides, is obliged, in his "Additions and Corrections'' to con- 
fess that, after all, it is probably really Periklean. 

We have dwelt so long upon Colonel Mure's treatment of 
Thucydides, that we have but little space to give to his criticisms 
on the historical works of Xenophon. But, if we had more, we 
could do little else than affix a strong stamp of our general ap- 
proval. The thorough unfairness, and, if the suppressio vert 
constitutes falsehood, the thorough falsehood of the Xenophon- 
tean narrative have never been better set forth than by Colonel 
Mure. But we must confess that we do not perceive in his Hel- 
lenics that vein of Attic patriotism which Colonel Mure recog- 
nises, especially in the earlier books. The cold and heartless 
way in which he records the subjugation of his own country is a 
strange contrast to the hearty sympathy which he shows for 
Laconia invaded by Epaminondas. And though we cannot en- 
ter upon the question, we adhere to Mr. Grote's view as to the 
banishment of Xenophon. Colonel Mure makes him out to 
have been banished while in Asia, without any apparent cause. 
Mr. Grote holds, and the historian's own text to our mind best 
confirms his view, that he was not banished till he had been 
guilty of manifest treason, till he had returned with Agesilaos 
and fought against his country at Eoroneia. But Colond Mure 
has opened an important field for consideration with regard to 
the trustworthiness of the Anabasis. He pointedly asks whether, 
as Xenophon is universally condemned as unfair in the Hellenics, 
where he sacrifices truth to the exaltation of his friend, he may 
not equally in the Anabasis have sacrificed truth to the exalta- 
tion of himself? And it is certainly a singular fact that Dio- 
dorus, in his succinct narrative of the B^tmn, mentions sev^al 
other Greek captains by name, but never once mentions Xeno- 
phon. Now Diodorus, though extremely stupid, is thoroughly 
honest, and he had before him many authors ^hom we have not. 
If the general testimony of his authorities assigned to Xenophon 
that prominent place in the Return which he occupies in his own 
narrative, it seems utterly impossible that his name could have 
escaped insertion in the Universal History of the laborious 

We differ from Colonel Mure on many points both critical 
and historical, and we think that in this particular volume he 
has undertaken a subject for which he is less qualified than for 
some others. In so vast a field as Hellenic literature, no one 
man can be equally at home in every comer. But even where 
we think Colonel Mure least successful, there is always much 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

Hashish. 91 

to be learned from Ids suggestive and invariably independent 
criticisms. His present volume is a valuable contribution to our 
knowledge of the Oreek historians ; even though we think he has 
&iled to do full justice to the greatest among them. We shall 
be delighted to meet him again on the neutral ground of lyric 
and dramatic poetry, as a commentator on Pindar and iSschylus 
and Aristophanes^ possibly as the reviver of Korinna and Phry- 
nichos^ of Eupolis aiid Kratinos. 

Abt. rV.-HASHISH. 

The Cheftdstry of Common Life. By J. F. W. Johnston. 1856. 8vo. 
Pictures qfPalestiney Asia Minor, Sicily, and Spain; or, the Lands 

of the Saracen. By Bayard Taylor. London, 1855. 8vo. 
Th^ pour le Doctorat en Medecine : Du Haschisch, son Histoire, ses 

JSffets physiologiques et therapeutiques. Par J. M. E. Berthault. 

Paris, 1864. 4to. 
The Elements of Materia Medica and Tfierapeutics. By J. Pereira. 

Fourth Edition. London, 1855. 8vo. 
The Travels of Ma/rco Polo. Edited by H. Murray. New York, 

1846. 8v6. 
Du Hasehisch, et de F Alienation mentale. Par J. Moreau. Paris, 

1845. 8vo. 

Goethe says, 

'^ They are not shadows which produce a dream : 
I know they are eternal, for they «r»." 

The phenomena of the human mind, in transient and abnormal 
states, derive a startling interest from the reflection, that under 
certain conditions these states may possibly become normal and 
permanent. At all events, dreams, insanities, opium-risions, mo- 
ments of poetic and reUgious ecstasy, and so forth, are revelations 
of the capacity of fhe soul foi^ degrees of pain, bliss, and spiritual 
activity, which life in its ordinary course gives no conception 
of; and as such, these exaltations and perturbations of the spirit 
have a significance which no one, who is not wholly absorbed in 
secular interests, will be disposed to disregard. An apprehen- 
sion of this significance has, with some nations, surrounded the 
madman with a divine awe ; and has at all times, and with aU peo- 
ple, produced a curiosity in the observation of such phenomena, 
which the ridicule of a material philosophy has not been able 
to subdue. There are few persons who have not received, in 
dreams^ in moments of religious contemplation, or during some 

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92 Hashish. 

passing gust of unaccountable emotion, such revelations of what 
they are capable of, for good or evil, as, if they are wise, will be 
treasured up in their memory as the pearls of their experience. 
But the higher or deeper these revelations are, the more diflScult 
does it become to retain any effectual impression of them. The 
poet says of such experiences : 

" What's that, which, ere I ast'd, was gone — 

So joyful and intense a spark, 
That, whilst o'er head the wonder shone, 

The day, before but dull, grew dark ? 
I do not know ; but this I know, 

That, had the splendour liv'd a year, 
The truth that I some heavenly show 

Did see could not be now more clear. 
This know I too : might mortal breath 

Express the passion then inspired. 
Evil would die a natural death. 

And nothing transient be desired ; 
And error from the world would pass, 

And leave the senses pure and strong 
As sunbeams. But the best, alas, 

Has neither memory nor tongue." 

Very nearly resembling these, for the most part unaccountable 
and indescribable moods of the spirit, are the states of mind 
which are sometimes produced in persons of highly intellectual 
and imaginative constitution, like Coleridge and De Quincey, by 
the use of narcotics. The states so produced seem generally to 
have been of a lower, and therefore more commimicable, nature 
than those which arise involuntarily; and we have several bril- 
liantly written records of the " happiness which may be bought for 
a penny, and carried in the waistcoat-pocket ; the portable ecsta- 
sies that may be had corked-up in a pint bottle ; and the peace 
of mind that can be sent down in gallons by the mail-coach.^' 
The interest attaching to these states, though inferior, is, how- 
ever, of the same class and kind ; and no one can read the ac- 
counts of Coleridge, De Quincey, Bayard Taylor, Dr. Madden, 
Dr. Moreau, M. Berthault, and others, without an increased 
fiense of the mysteries and capabilities of his spiritual being. 

The temperament which is susceptible of exaltation by nar- 
cotics into a rapturous or vision-beholding condition, seems hap- 
pily to be rare in northern climates. A predisposing warmth 
and activity of imagination — ^a common quality with eastern 
races, but a rare one with us — ^is absolutely necessary to enable 
a man to become an "opium-eater" to any purpose. The 
ordinary effect of the more powerful narcotics upon an English- 
man, when they do not make him simply very ill, "is," says Dr. 
Christison, in his TVeatise on Poisons, "merely to remove torpor 
and slu^shness, and to make him, in the eyes of his friends, an 

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Hashish. 93 

actiye and oonversable man.^^ The reaction of narcotics upon 
the nerves^ when largely used^ is^ however^ so immediate and dis- 
agreeable a penalty^ that the English are in no danger whatever 
of becoming a nation of opium or hashish debauchees; and we 
feel no compunction in placing before them an account of some 
of those exceptional cases in which, the results have been sufGi- 
ciently delightful to constitute a temptation to one of the most 
roinous species of debauchery. 

The statistics of narcotics^ and the phenomena attending the 
use of them in the climates to which they seem to be more par- 
ticularly suited^ deserve more attention as an element of " gene- 
ral knowledge*^ than they have received. Those who would be 
fully informed upon the subject^ will find it very well treated of 
in Nos. 8 and 9 of Johnston's Chemistry of Common Life. The 
five great narcotics, which are articles of national consumption 
in one part of the world or another, are — tobacco, opium, hemp, 
betel, and coca. Tobacco is the one universal narcotic; the 
others are consumed by the human race in the following propor- 
tions: opium by four hundred millions, hemp (i. e. haslush) by 
between two and three hundred millions, betel by one hundred 
jnillions, and coca by ten millions. Besides these, Siberia has 
its narcotic fungus; the Polynesian Islands their ava; New 
Granada and the Himmalayas their thorn-apples; the Florida 
Indians their emetic-holly ; Northern Europe and America their 
ledums and sweet gale, &c. " No nation so ancient," says 
Johnston, " but has had its narcotic soother from the most dis- 
tant times; none so remote or isolated, but has found within its 

own borders a pain-allayer and narcotic care-dispeller 

No other crops, except com, and perhaps cotten, represent more 
commercial capital, or are the subjects of a more extended and 
unfiEuling traffic, and the source of more commercial wealth.^' 

Besides the various effects which are common te all the prin- 
cipal narcotics, each has characteristics of its own. Hashish 
produces real catalepsy, and exaggerates rather than perverts the 
reports of the senses as to external objects ; the thorn-apple, on 
the other hand, causes truly spectral illusions, and enables the 
Indian to converse with the spirits of his ancestors. The Sibe- 
rian fungus gives insensibility to pain without interfering with 
consciousness. The common puff-ball stops all muscular action, 
but leaves the perceptive powers untouched. Cocculus indicus 
makes the body drunk, without affecting the mind. Coca has 
the wonderful power of sustaining muscular strength in the ab- 
sence of food, and of preventing the wasting of the tissues of the 
body during the greatest and most prolonged exertion. The 
effects of the different narcotics are not only peculiar, but often 
opposed. Opium and hashish^ common in many of their effects^ 

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94 Hashish. 

are opposite in this, that the former diminishes sensibility to ex- 
ternal impressions, whereas the latter almost infinitely increases 
it. Betel is even an antidote to opium, as tea is to alcohol. To- 
bacco suspends mental activity; opium and hashish increase it a 

Psychologically, opium and hashish are by far the most in- 
teresting of the narcotics ; and of these two, hashish, though the 
less known, indubitably bears the palm. They have, however, 
many qualities in common. We seem to be reading of the 
Eastern "hashishins" in Lord Macartney^s description of the 
Japanese opium-eaters. '^They acquire an artificial courage; 
and when suffering from misfortune and disappointment, they 
not only stab the objects of their hate, but sally forth to attack 
in like manner every person they meet, till self-preservation ren- 
ders it necessary to destroy them." The term " running a-muck" 
is said to be derived from the cry, "Amok, amok!'^ meaning 
'' Kill, kill," with which they accompany their fantastic crusade. 
On one occasion a Japanese was "running a-muck" in Batavia, 
and "had killed several people, when he was met by a soldier, 
who ran him through with his pika But such was the despera- 
tion of the infuriated man, that he pressed himself forward on 
the pike, until he got near enough to stab his adversary with a 
dagger, when both expired together." While such is not un- 
commonly the effect of opium, as of hashish, in the East and in 
tropical climates, the ordinary influence of both these drugs in 
northern countries is described by De Quincey in the contrast 
he draws between the effects of opium and alcohol : " Wine robs 
a man of his self-possession ; opium greatly invigorates it : wine 
unsettles and clouds the judgment, and gives a preternatural 
brightness and a vivid exaltation to the contempts and the admi- 
rations, the loves and the hatreds, of the drinker ; opium, on the 
contrary, communicates serenity and equipoise to all the facul- 
ties, active or passive; and with respect to the temper and 
moral feelings in general, it gives simply that sort of vital 
warmth which is approved by the judgment, and which would 
probably always accompany a bodily constitution of primeval or 
antediluvian health." Dr. Madden^s description of his feelings 
under the influence of opium exactly corresponds to the effect of 
a dose of hashish just insufficient to produce the fantasia : " My 
faculties appeared enlarged ; every thing I looked at seemed in- 
creased in volume; I had no longer the same pleasure when I 
closed my eyes which I had when they were open ; it appeared 
to me as if it was only external objects which were acted on by 

the imagination, and magnified into images of pleasure 

In walking, I was hardly sensible of my feet touching the ground; 
it seemed as if I sUd along the street^ impelled by some invisible 

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Hashish. 05 

agents and that my blood was composed of some ethereal fluid, 
which rendered my body lighter than air The most ex- 
traordinary visions of delight filled my brain aU night. In the 
momuig I rose pale and dispirited ; my head ached ; my body 
was so debilitated, that T was obliged to remain on the sofa all 
day/' When, however, hashish is taken in large doses, it pro- 
duces effects more extraordinary than those of any other drug 
of its class ; and, as being the most singular and the least known 
of the narcotics, it deserves a special notice. 

The narcotic principle of hemp is very imperfectly developed 
in northern climates, although the plant rivals wheat and the 
potato in its power of self-adaptation to almost every soil and 
temperature. The narcotic quality resides in the sap; it is a 
resin. The odour of a hemp-field, and the giddiness and head- 
ache which attack persons remaining long in it, prove the exist- 
ence of this resin in the northern plant ; but it is only in the 
[East that it exists in such quantities as to render its extraction 
practicable. In India, Persia, and Egypt, however, the resm 
spontaneously exudes firom all parts of the herb in sufficient quan- 
tities to be gathered by the hand. In Central India men with 
leather aprons rush about among the hemp-plants, which deposit 
their balsam upon that primitive garment. This even is dis- 
pensed with sometimes, and the Coolies receive the precious 
gum upon their naked skins. The ^'churrus^' of Herat, which 
is one of the most powerful species of the narcotic, is obtained 
by pressing the hemp in cloths. The resin is not always sepa- 
rated from its parent plant, which is in some places gathered 
when in flowei*, dried, and sold in bundles. In this state it is 
the gunjah of Calcutta. The larger leaves and seed-pods are 
denominated barig. The tops and tender shoots, and the pistils 
of the flowers, are hashish par excellence; and this is the form in 
which it is usually smoked. The name hashish also belongs to 
an extract firom the gunjahy obtained by boiling it with butter. 
The gunjahy — ^that is to say, the entire plant, — when boiled in 
alcohol, yields as much as one-fifth of its weight of pure resin. 
In the East the hashish is made up into various kinds of sweet- 

In one form or another, hashish seems to have been known 
to Eastern nations from very early times. The following is the 
passage of Herodotus which is alluded to by most of those who 
have written about the resin of hemp : 

^ They who have been engaged in the performance of these [funeral] 
rites [of the Scythians], afterwards use the following mode of purgation. 
After thoroughly washing the head, and then drying it, they do thus with 
regard to the body : they place in the ground three stakes inclining 
towards each other ; round these they bind pieces of wool as thickly 

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96 Hashish. 


as possible ; and finally, into the space betwixt the stakes they throw 
red-hot stones. They have among them a species of hemp resembling 

flax, except that it is both thicker and larger The Scythians 

take the seed of this hemp ; and placing it beneath the woollen fleeces, 
.... they throw it upon the red-hot stones, when immediately a per- 
fumed vapour ascends stronger than from any Qrecian stove. This to 
the Scythians is in the place of a bath ; and it excites from them cries 
of exultation." 

Dioscorides and Galen allude to certain properties of hemp as 
a pain-allayer. M. Virey has endeavoured to show that the 

" Nepenthes, which the wife of Thone 
In Egypt gave to Jove-bom Helena, " 

must have been no other than hashish. This drug seems always 
to have been known to the Egyptians; who of old argued^ ac- 
cording to Diodorus Siculus^ that Homer must have lived in. 
their coimtry, from his possession of the secret known to the 
women of Egyptian Thebes. Pliny mentions hemp as adverse 
to virile power. In the Arabian Nights hashish is mentioned 
under the name of benff. But the chief historical interest of 
the drug is in connection with the strange and formidable sect 
of the Ishmaelites^ who^ in the time of the Crusades^ spread 
throughout and beyond the Mussulman world a terror out of 
all proportion to their numbers. By means of this narcotic^ the 
chief of the sect, the " Old Man of the Mountain/^ obtained 
over his followers an influence more absolute than has ever, be- 
fore or since, been possessed by one man over others. Henry 
Count of Champagne visited the leader of the sect, who took 
him to the top of a high tower, on the battlements of which were 
stationed men in white robes. " I doubt,^^ said the Old Man^ 
"whether you have any subjects so obedient as miue;" and, 
making a sign to two of the sentinels upon the tower, they pre« 
cipitated themselves from it, and were dashed to pieces. Sum- 
moned by the envoy of a powerful enemy to submit, the sheik 
called a soldier, and ordered him to kill himself, which he forth- 
with did. " Tell your master,^^ said the Ishmaelite, " that I have 
sixty thousand men who would do the same." Marco Polo's 
.romantic and picturesque account of the discipline by which this 
terrible sect of the "Assassins" "was created and maintained 
seems to be true in its main features : 

''You shall hear all about the Old Man of the Mountain, as I 
Marco Polo heard related by many persons. He was called in their 
language Alaodin ; and had caused to be formed in a valley between 
two mountains the largest and most beautiful garden that ever was 
seen. There grew all the finest fruits in the world ; and it was adorned 
with the most beautiful houses and palaces, the interior being richly 

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Hashish. 97 

gilded^ and fbrnished witli finely-coloured pictures of birds and beasts, 
and the most striking objects. It contained several conduits, through 
"which flowed water, wine, honey, and milk. Here were ladies and 
damsels, unequalled in beauty and the skill with which they sang and 
played on instruments of every description. Now the Old Man made 
his people believe that this garden was Paradise ; and he formed it 
there because Mohammed had ^ven the Saracens to believe that those 
"who went into that place would meet great numbers of beautiful women, 
and find rivers of water, wine, milk, and honey : hence the visitors were 
led to think that this was really Paradise. Into this garden he ad- 
mitted no man, except those whom he wished to make Assassins. The 
entry to the spot was commanded by a castle so strong, that he did 
not fear any power in the world. He kept in his court all the youths 
of the country between twelve and twenty years of age ; and when he 
thought proper, selected a number who had been well instructed in the 
description of Paradise. He gave them a beverage which threw them 
into a deep sleep, then carried them into the garden and made them 
be awakened. When any one of them opened his eyes, saw this de- 
lightful spot, and heard the delicious music and songs, he really believed 
himself in the state of blessedness. When again, however, he was 
aaleep, he was brought out into the castle ; when he awoke in great 
wonder, and felt deep regret at having left that delightful abode. He 
then went humbly to the Old Man, worshipping him as a prophet. 
.... The chief then named to him a great lord whom he wished him 
to kill. The youth cheerfully obeyed ; and if in the act he was taken 
and put to death, he sufiered with exultation, believing that he was to 

go into the happy place Thus scarcely any one could escape 

being slain, when the Old Man of the Mountain desired it." 

Marco Polo's account is corroborated by Arabian writers ; and 
the historian Von Hanmer does not dispute its probable vera- 
city. Sylvestre de Sacy has demonstrated that the word ' assassin' 
is a corraption of hashishin, and has provided us with much 
ccuiottB information on the subject of hashish. The following 
account of the discovery of the herb — or rather one of its disco- 
veries, for we have seen that it was known to the ancients — ]& 
taken by M. Sylvestre de Sacy from the Arabic : 

" In the year 658 [of the Hegira], I asked the Scheik Djafar 
Schiiazi, the son of Mohammed, and monk of the order of Haider, how 
the properties of this drug came to be discovered ; and how, after 
being confined to the Fakirs, its use became general. This was his 
answer : ' Haider, the chief of all the scheiks, practised many exer- 
cises of devotion and mortification. He took but little nourishment^ 
carried his detachment from every thing belonging to the world to a 

rarprising extreme, and was of the most extraordinary piety 

He himself lived alone in a comer of his convent, and there passed more 
than ten years without going out or seeing any one but myself. One 
Tery hot day the scheik went out alone into the country; and when he 
returned, we remarked an air of joy and cheerfulness on his countenance 


Digitized by 


98 Hashish. 

very differeot from its usual appearance. He allowed bis Fakir com- 
panions to visit him, and began conversing with them. When we 
saw tbe scbeik thus humanised. ... we asked him the cause of so 

surprising a circumstance He replied, ....'' I noticed that 

every plant was in a state of perfect calm, without experiencing tbe 
least agitation, by reason of tbe extreme heat, and tbe absence of the 
slightest breath of wind ; but, passing by a certain plant, I observed 
that it waved gracefully with a gentle swaying, as if inebriated by the 
fiimes of wine. I began plucking the leaves of this plant and eating 
them ; and they have produced in me the gaiety you have noticed." '^* 

The poet Mohammed Dimaschki, the son of Ali, also attri- 
butes the discovery to the Sheik Header, in an ode of which these 
are specimen passages : 

" Leave wine, and take instead the cup of Haider, which exhales 
the smell of amber. Never has wine evoked the delight which is pro- 
duced by this beneficent cup : close your ears, then, to the madman 
who would dissuade you from the draught .... Never has the priest 
of a Christian sacrifice mingled the juice of it in his profane goblet." 

Another poet, Ahmed Halebi, likewise attributes the discovery 
to Haider; and celebrates particularly one of the properties for 
which the herb is famous in the East, in verses which M. S. de 
Sacy thus renders into French : 

"Telle jeune beaute a la taille Mgere, que j'avais toujours vue 
prSte k prendre la friite, dont jamais le visage ne s'^tait offert a mes 
regards qu'avec les traits farouches d'une fierte cruelle. 

Je Tai rencontr6e un jour avec un visage riant, une humeur douce 
et facile, et toutes les graces d'une soci^tl pleine de douceur et de 

Je lui ai t6moign6 ma reconnaissance de oe 

qu'H tant de rebuts avait enfin succ6d6 un accueil favorable. 

Tu n'en es pas redevable, m'a-t-elle r^pondu, au caract^ que j*ai 
re9u de la nature. Bends graces a celui qui t'a ooncili^ mes &veurs, au 
vin de Tindigent : 

C'est le haschischa, Therbe de la joie . . . 

Yeux-tu te rendre mi^tre k la chasse d'une jeune et timide gazelle ? 
aie soin qu'elle paisse le feuillage du chauvre." 

As a set-off against the praises of hashish by the Arabic poets, 
let ns hear what an Arabic physician says : " Let us turn aside 
from the erroneous paths of men. The truth is, that there is 
nothing more injurious to the human constitution than this 
herb.^^ Alaeddin, son of Nefis, also bears witness : " I have had 
ample experience ; and I have seen that the use of this drug pro- 
duces low inclinations, and debases the soul. The faculties of 
those who take it are degraded more and niore ; so that at last, 
so to say, they have none of the attributes of humanity left/' 
Makrizi (translated by M. de Sacy) tells us, that for a long 

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Hashish. 99 

period it was considered disgraceful to eat hashish; and that 
laws were made against the use of it, one of which was, that the 
offender should have all his teeth extracted. '' But at last, in the 
year 815, this cursed drug began to be publicly used, . . , and 
the most reiined persons were not ashamed of making presents 
of it to one another. The consequence was, that vileness of 
sentiment and manners became general; shame and modesty 
vanished from among men ; they learned to boast of their vices ; 
and nothing of manhood remained but the fonn.f' 

Let us now set before our readers such authentic personal 
experiences as we have been able to collect firom books and 
otherwise. These accounts of the '' pleasures of hashish" carry 
their antidote with them ; and few, we imagine, will be disposed 
to become ^' assassins'' under penalties so unpleasant as we shall 
set before them. 

M. Moreau, who has gone more fiilly into the subject of the 
effects of hashish upon the human system than any other writer, 
concludes that there is not only an analogy, but an identity, be- 
tween the mental conditions of insanity and fantasia produced 
by this narcotic. Even the general exhilaration, which is the 
result of a moderate dose of hashish, closely resembles that which 
is very frequently the precursor of a paroxysm of madness. This 
exhilaration is thus described by M. Moreau : 

** It is real Juxppiness which is produced by hashish j; an enjo3rment 
entirely moral, and by no means sensual, as might be imagined. . . . 
For the hashish-eater is happy, not like the gourmand, or the famished 
man when satisfying his appetite, or the voluptuary in the gratifica- 
tion of his desires ; but like one who hears news that fill him with joy, 
or like the miser counting his stores, or the successful gambler, or the 
ambitious man in the moment of attainment." 

In a more advanced stage of the intoxication 

*'We become the sport of impressions of every kind. The course of 
our ideas may be broken by the slightest cause. We are turned, so 
to speak, by every wind. By a word or a gesture, our thoughts may 
be successively directed to a multitude of different subjects with a ra- 
pidity and lucidity truly marvellous. The mind becomes possessed 
with a feeling of pride corresponding to the exaltation of its faculties. 
Those who make use of hashish in the East, when they wish to give 
themselves up to the fantasia, withdraw themselves carefully from 
every thing that could give a melancholy direction to their delirium. 
They take all the means which the dissolute manners of the East place 
at their disposal; . . . and they find themselves almost transported to 
the Paradise of the Prophet." 

Under the influence of hashish, M. Moreau has frequently 
found distance inunensely exaggerated, every thing appearing to 

Digitized by 


100 Hashish. 

the eye as it does throagh the wrong end of an opera-glass. 
Such are frequently the illusions of true insanity. But in no^ 
thing are the hashish- visions and lunacy so curiously identified 
as in the consciousness and partial power of will which com- 
monly characterises both. For a time the power of hashish may 
be yielded to or not^ at the choice of the will ; and it is only ixx 
extreme intoxication that the visions are wholly uncontrollable. 
'^ The marked correspondence/^ says a writer in the British and 
Foreign Medical Review, '' between the phenomena of insanity 
and those which are induced by the introduction of such sub- 
stances into the bloody must not be overlooked in any attempt to 
arrive at the true pathology of the former condition^ or to bring 
it within the domain of the therapeutic art.'^ 

M. Berthaulty in his Thesis for the Doctor^ s Degree, gives 
the best summary of the physical and psychical effects of hashisli 
which we have met with ; he also adds some interesting experi- 
ences of his own as to the fantoAa, One day he had swallowed 
a large dose ; and while under the effect of it, the band of a regi- 
ment of dragoons suddenly began to play beneath his windows. 
Never, he tells us, had he known what music was till thea. 
His perceptive powers were so much intensified, that he became 
able to distinguish the part taken by each instrument in the 
band as well as the best leader of an orchestra could have done. 
He experienced, in a remarkable degree, that extraordinary wa- 
terialisation of ideas, which seems to be one of the most constant 
effects of the drug when taken in large quantities. The elements 
of the harmonies heard by him assumed the form of ribbons of a 
thousand changing colours, intertwisting, waving, and knotting 
themselves in a manner apparently the most capricious : " un- 
twisting all the chains that tie the hidden soul of harmony,'' 
says Milton; and what occurs to the poet as the best figure 
under which to represent his idea, with the hashish-eater assumes 
reality. The experience of Theodore Gaultier, the artist, when 
under the etSects of hashish, was curiously the converse of that 
of M. Berthault. Colours to him represented themselves as 
sounds, which produced very sensible vibrations and undulations 
of the air. M. Berthault's hallucination of the ribbons aft^ a 
while changed ; but only to become more material and tangible. 
Each note became a flower; and there were as many different kinds 
of flowers as notes; and these formed wreaths and garlands, in 
which the harmony of the colours represented that of the sounds. 
The flowers soon gave place to precious stones of various kinds ; 
which rose in fountains, fell again in cascades, and streamed away 
in all directions. The next phase of the vision will at once suggest 
Coleridge's Kubla Khan, which, our readers will remember, was 
written under a similar inspiration. The band began to play a 

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Hashish. 101 

waltz: ^th the change of the measure the Vision entirely changed; 
M. Berthault found himself in a multitude of saloons gorgeously 
decorated and illuminated. All these apartments merged into 
one, surmoimted by an enormous dome, which was built of 
coloured crystals, and supported by a thousand columns. This 
dome dissolved, and beyona its vanishing walls appeared another 
fiur more glorious. This gave way to a third, more splendid still; 
and this again to a congeries of domes one upon the other, and 
each more gorgeous than any of its predecessors. At the same 
time there appeared the vision of an innumerable assemblage 
executing a frantic waltz, and rolling itself like a serpent from 
faall to hall. 

From a great number of experiments made on himself and 
others, M. Berthault concludes that the most constant eflfect of 
hashish is a great exaggeration of the perceptions of the senses 
or the emotions of the mind, whatever these may be at the time. 
Sorrow, according to his experience, is not dissipated by hashish, 
as its eastern panegyrists say, but intensified. * The slightest 
feeling of personal irritation or resentment becomes a deadly 
revenge ; the gentlest affection is transformed to the most pas- 
sionate love ; ordinary fear is changed into overwhelming terror ; 
courage to headlong rashness, and so forth. Of all means^ of 
illustrating the powers of hashish, there is nothing, he says, like 
music. He professes to have repeatedly witnessed persons car- 
ried through the most opposite conditions of mind, in a space of 
time incr^bly short, by variations of music played to them 
during their hallucination. He further remarks, that jpersons in 
this condition can be guided in their visions by a looker-on ; a 
condition reminding us strongly of that strange state of mind 
produced by the manipulations of the " electro-biologist/' With 
the following curious extract we take our leave of M. Berthault : 

''Rnsieurs de mes amis m'ont racont^ que dans les Dombes, a 
r^poque ou Ton recolte le chanvre (hemp), les femmes chai^^es de cette 
besogne entrent parfois dans les acc^ de fureur, attaquent les passanta, 
et, semblables d. des Bacchantes, se livrent il des debauches ; . . . . 
elles emploient, dit-on, la violence centre ceux qui voudraient les 
r^sister ; on les a mdme vues parfois se livrer k des actes d*une barbarie 
et d'mie cmaut^ digne des temps anciens." 

The following account we give from a private source. The 
friend who sends it to us is a man of highly nervous tempera- 
ment : 

'' My experience of the effects of hashish is as follows. I have taken 
it six or seven times in the solid form, as pills, and about as many times 
as alcoholic extract. The latter seems to act more powerfully than the 
former, the quantities being alike. Five drops of the alcoholic extract, 
taken on a lump of sugar after tea, produce a very appreciable and 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC — ^ 

102 Haahiah. 

agreeable exhilaration, resembling, more than any thing else I know, the 
effect upon the spirits of the first real spring day in the year. The circu- 
lation of the blood seems to be increased, the beats of the heart become 
perceptible, and a peculiarly genial condition of moral and physical 
being is induced, which does not at all resemble the improved state of 
feeling that arises from the seasonable use of wine, tea, or coffee. I 
have taken five or ten drops every evening for several days, without 
any apparent reaction upon the nervous system. A dose of fifteen 
drops increased the pulsations of the heart so as to produce a feeling' 
of anxiety and restlessness ; though, taken five or six hours before going 
to bed, it kept me awake half the night, and when I went to sleep 
caused a succession of very vivid and distressing dreams. The fol* 
lowing day my nerves were sensibly the worse ; any sudden noise or 
movement startled and annoyed me, and I felt hkbBe and indisposed to 
exertion, mental or bodily. A similar dose on another occasion pro- 
duced similar effects. I have twice tried to produce the faviasia by 
taking large doses, but have failed each time ; and the effects upon my 
nerves have been so evidently injurious, that I have not thought it pru- 
dent to repeat tfie experiment with a larger quantity. On one occasion 
I swallowed five hashish-pills (each an ordinary dose) ; and went straight 
to bed, in order to avoid betraying the effects, which I expected would 
follow, to others. I experienced no exaltation or derangement of mind 
whatever, but found that my senses were rendered extraordinarily acute. 
The ticking of my watch sounded louder than that of a kitchen-clock ; 
and the slight noises one hears at night, from changes of temperature 
in the timbers of the house, <bc., were quite startling. The nearest 
approach to the hashish-visions I experienced was on looking at the 
picture of a lady, which hung near me ; the countenance, to the best of 
my faculty of seeing, really did smile and laugh and vary its expression 
from moment to moment, and the figure became rounded and living and 
seemed to stir in its frame ; and now and then the face, which was a 
very beautiful one, assumed a ghastly or ludicrous expression. After 
a while I put the light out, and tried to get to sleep ; but could not^ on 
account, as it seemed, of the strong palpitations of my heart. I had no 
true sleep the whole night ; but only a condition of doze, disturbed by 
unpleasant and half-conscious dreams. The next day, and for two or 
three days after that, my nerves were miserably unstrung. I was in- 
capable of thinking two consecutive thoughts ; I was quite untouched 
by ordinary causes of interest and pleasure ; my temper was irritable 
in the extreme, and altogether I felt as I had felt only once before, 
when several weeks of severe illness had prostrated my mental and 
physical strength, and left my nerves relaxed and incapable of any but 
disagreeable impressions. On another occasion I took a still larger 
dose, t. e. sixty drops of the alcoholic extract ; but still failed to evoke 
the spirit of hashish. I experienced, indeed, something of that extra- 
ordinary exaggeration of the idea of time which most hashish-eaters 
have described : actions and movements which could not have occupied 
seconds, seemed to occupy minutes ; but besides this nothing wonderful 
happened. The subsequent nervous effect, — I cannot call it reaction, 
when there had been so little action, — ^was as unpleasant as before ; and 

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. Hashish. 103 

I can thoroughly comprehend how a course of hashish-eating must end 
in the degrading deterioration of the mental and moral character de- 
scribed by eastern travellers and others. The following day, in the 
presence of a very slight danger,— -one which would not have in the least 
degree affected me at another time, — I felt cowed, incapable, and ter- 
rified. I have resolved not to repeat an experiment which has twice 
proved so disagreeable. As to the very small doses, they seem to be 
^larmless and agreeable in their effect, under one condition, that while 
their action lasts, the mind and body remain inactive. Any exertion 
of thought, even so much as in writing a letter, destroys the agreeable 
effect, and changes it to a feeling of impatience and feverishness." 

Mr. Bayard Taylor has placed on record the results of two 
experiments on the effects of hashish. The first was while he 
was in a boat upon the Nile. He took the narcotic in a mild 
form and moderate quantity^ and describes his sensations as 
being *' physically, of exquisite lightness and airiness ; mentally, 
of a wonderfully keen perception of the ludicrous in the most 
simple and familiar objects.'^ While the fit lasted, he was per- 
fectly able to observe and reflect upon his feelings. '^ I noted 
with careful attention the fine sensations which spread through 
the whole tissue of my nervous fibre, each thrill helping to divest 
my frame of its earthly and material nature, until my substance 
appeared to me no grosser than the vapours of the atmosphere. 
The objects by which I was surrounded assumed a strange and 
whimsical expression. My pipe, the oars which my boiEttmen 
plied, the turban worn by the captain, the water-jars and culi- 
nary implements, became in themselves so inexpressibly absurd 
and comical, that I was provoked into a long fit of laughter. 
The hallucination died away as gradually as it came, leaving me 
overcome with a soft and pleasant drowsiness, firom which I sank 
into a deep refreshing sleep.^' This experiment, Mr. Bayard 
Taylor tells us, only excited his curiosity, and prompted him for 
once to throw himself wholly under the influence of the drug. 
Being at Damascus with an EngUsh gentleman and his wife and 
a brother American, he determined upon a repetition of the nar- 
cotic dose in an intenser form; and the two other gentlemen 
of the party agreed to join him in the trial. A dragoman, on 
being comnussioned to procure the drug, demanded, in the lin- 
ffua franca of the East, whether he should purchase hashish 
^^per ridere^ o per dormire" *' Oh, per ridere, of course,'^ was 
the answer. It seems that it is the custom with the Syrians 
'' to take a small portion immediately before the evening meal, 
as it is thus diffused through the stomach, and acts more gra- 
dually, as well as more gently, upon the system.^' The Engfish- 
man objected to Mr. Taylor's proposal to take it, following the 
Syrian example, at dinner; and it was agreed that it should be 

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104 Hashish. * 

in the evening, when the parties under its influence might be 
more in private, and retire, if they pleased, to their separate 
apartments. Not knowing the proper quantity to take, and 
finding that a teaspoonfiil of the preparation had no immediate 
ejQTect, an additional dose was swallowed by each of the three, 
and its effect hastened by a cup of hot tea. It appeared after- 
wards, that they had taken at least six times the proper quantity. 
We have to thank this accident for by very much the most cu- 
rious and amusing account we have read of the effects of this 
extraordinary drug : 

'' I was seated aloni) nearly in the middle of the room, talking with 
my friends, who were lounging upon a sofa placed in a sort of alcove at the 
further end, when the same fine nervous thrill of which I have spoken 
suddenly shot through me. But this time it was accompanied by a 
burning sensation at the pit of the stomach ; and instead of growing 
upon me with the gradual pace of healthy slumber, and resolving me, 
as before, into air, it came with the intensity of a pang, and shot throb* 
bing along the nerves to the extremities of my body. The sense of 
limitation, of the confinement of our senses within the bounds of our 
own flesh and blood, instantly fell away. The walls of my frame were 
burst outward and tumbled into ruin ; and, without thinking what 
fdJrm I wore, — ^losing sight even of all idea of form, — I felt that I 
-existed throughout a vast extent of space. The blood, pulsed from my 
heart, sped through uncounted leagues before it reached my extremi- 
ties ; the air drawn into my lungs expanded into seas of limpid ether, 
and the arch of my skull was broader than the vault of heaven. Within 
the concave that held my brain were the fathomless deeps of blue ; 
clouds floated there, and the winds of heaven rolled them together, and 
there shone the sun. It was — though I thought not of that at the 
time — like a revelation of the mystery of omnipresence. It is difficult 
to describe this sensation, or the rapidity with which it mastered me. 
In the state of mental exaltation in which I was then plunged, all sen- 
sations, as they rose, suggested more or less coherent images. They 
presented themselves to me in a double form : one physical, and there- 
fore to a certain extent tangible ; the other spiritual, and revealing 
itself in a succession of splendid metaphors. The physical feeling of 
extended being was accompanied by the image of an exploding meteor, 
not subsiding into darkness, but continuing to shoot from its centre or 
nucleus — which corresponded to the burning spot at the pit of my 
stomach — ^incessant adumbrations (f ) of light, that finally lost them- 
selves in the infinity of spaee My curiosity was now in a way 

of being satisfied ; the spirit (demon shall I not rather say ?) of hashish 
had entire possession of me. I was oast upon this flood of his iUu- 
sions, and drifted helplessly whithersoever they might choose to bear 
me. The thrills which ran through my nervous system became more 
rapid and fierce, accompanied by sensations that steeped my whole 
being in unutterable rapture. I was encompassed by a sea of light, 
through which played the pure harmonious colours that are bom of 

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Hashish. 105 

light While endeavouring, in broken expressions, to describe my 
feelings to my friends, who sat looking upon me incredfalously, not yet 
having been affected by the drug, I suddenly found myself at the foot 
of the great pyramid of Cheops. The tapering courses of yellow lime- 
stone gleamed like gold in the sun ; and the pile rose so high, that it 
seemed to lean for support upon the blue arch of the sky. I wished 
to ascend it ; and the wish alone placed me immediately upon its apex. 
.... I cast my eyes downward, and to my astonishment saw that it 
was built, not of limestone, but of huge square plugs of Cavendish 

tobacco I writhed in my chair in an agony of laughter, which 

was only relieved by the vision melting away like a dissolving view; 
till another and more wonderful vision arose I despair of repre- 
senting its exceeding glory. I was moving over the desert, not upon 
the rocking dromedary, but seated in a barque made of mother-of-pearl, 
and studded with jewels of surpassing lustre. The sand was of grains of 
gold j the air was radiant, though no sun was to be seen ; I inhaled the 
most delicious perfumes ; and harmonies, such as Beethoven may have 
heard in dreams, but never wrote, floated around me. The atmosphere 
itself was light, odour, music ; and each and all sublimated beyond 
any thing the sober senses are capable of receiving. Before me, for a 

thousand leagues, as it seemed, stretched a vista of rainbows 

By thousands and tens of thousands they flew past me, as my dazzling 
barge sped down the magnificent arcade I revelled in a sen- 
suous elysium, which was perfect, because no sense was left ungrattfied. 
But, beyond all, my mind was filled with a boundless feeling of triumph. 
My journey was that of a conqueror, .... victorious over the grandest 
as well as the subtlest forces of nature. The spirits of light, colour, 
odour, sound, and motion were my slaves ; and I was master of the 
universe. .... Those finer senses, which occupy a middle ground be- 
tween our animal and intellectual appetites, were suddenly developed 
to a pitch beyond what I had ever dreamed, and gratified to the fullest 

extent of their preternatural capacity. Mahomet's paradise 

would have been a poor and mean terminus for my arcade of rainbows. 
Tet in the character of this paradise, in the gorgeous fancies of the 
Arabian nights, in the glow and luxury of all oriental poetry, I now 
recognise more or less of the agency of hashish. The fullness of my 
rapture expanded the sense of time ; and though the whole vision was 
probably not more than five minutes in passing, years seemed to have 

Hashish-eaters agree in this curious experience of the ex- 
aggeration of the idea of time. M. Moreau, an habitual shal- 
lower of this narcotic, states that one evening, in traversing the 
passage of the Opera under its influence, the time occupied in 
taking a few steps seemed to be hours, and the passage inter- 
Httinable, But to return to Mr. Taylor's visions : 

'^ By and by the rainbows, the barque, &c. vanished ; and, still 
bathed in light and perfume, I found myself in a land of green and 
flowery lawns. . • • . The people who came from the hills, with bril- 

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106 Hashish. 

liant garments that shone in the sun, besought me to give them the 
blessing of waiter. Their hands were full of branches of the coral- 
honeysuckle, in bloom. These I took ; and breaking off the flowers 
one by one, set them in the earth. The slender trumpet-like tubes im- 
mediately became shafts of masonry ; the lip of the flower changed 
into a circular mouth of rose-coloured marble ; and the people lowered 
their pitchers, and drew them up again, filled to the brim and dripping 
with honey." 

Strange to say^ all the time these visions were going on^ Mr. 
Taylor was perfectly conscious that he was seated in an apart* 
ment of Antonio's hotel in Damascus^ and that his dreams w^« 
all simply the result of having taken hashish. 

'^ -Metaphysicians,'' he remarks, ''say that the mind is incapable of 
performing two operations at the same time, and may attempt to ex- 
plain this phenomenon by supposing a rapid and incessant vibration of 
the perceptions between the two states. This explanation, however, is 
not satisfactory to me ; for not more clearly does a skilful musician with 
the same breath blow two distinct musical notes from a bugle than I 
was conscious of two distinct conditions of being in the same moment. 
Yet, singular as it may seem, neither conflicted with the other. My 
enjoyment of the visions was complete and absolute, and undisturbed 
by the faintest doubt of their reality ; while, in some other chamber of 
my brain, Reason sat coolly watching them, and heaping the hveliest 
ridicule on their fantastic features." 

It will occur to many of our readers^ that the only pheno- 
menon that resembles the above^ in a normal mental state, is 
that of what is commonly and expressively called poetic inspira- 
tion, in which the most lively and passionate realisation of a 
series of events and images goes on simultaneously with the con- 
scious exercise of the cold skill of the artistic intellect, 

" The drug, which had been retarded in its operation on account of 
having been taken after a meal, now began to make itself more power- 
fully felt. The visions were more grotesque than ever, but less agree- 
able ; and there was a painful tension throughout my nervous system. 
.... 1 was a mass of transparent jelly, and a confectioner poured me 
into a twisted mould. I threw my chair aside, and writhed and tor- 
tured myself for some time to force my loose substance into the mould. 
At last^ when I had so far succeeded that only one foot remained out- 
side, it was lifted off, and another mould, of still more crooked and in- 
tricate shape, substituted. I have no doubt that the contortions through 
which I went to accomplish the end of my gelatinous destiny would 
have been extremely ludicrous to a spectator, but to me they were 
painftil and disagreeable. The sober half of me went into fits of 

laughter over them I had laughed until my eyes overflowed 

profusely. Every drop that fell immediately became a large loaf of 
bread, and tumbled upon the shop-board of a baker at Damascus. The 
more I laughed, the faster the loaves fell, until such a pile was raised 

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Hashish. 107 

about the baker that I could hardly see the top of his head. * The 
man will be suffocated/ I cried ; * but if he were to die, I cannot stop.* 
My perceptions now became more dim and confused. I felt that I was 
in the grasp of some giant force, and in the glimmering of my fading 
reason grew earnestly alarmed ; for the terrible stress under which my 
frame laboured increased every minute. A fierce and furious heat ra- 
diated from my stomach throughout my system ; my mouth and throat 
were as dry and hard as if made of brass ; and my tongue, it seemed to 
me, was a bar of rusty iron." 

In this condition Mr. Taylor remained for some time, deriving 
no alleviation from great draughts of water, "heaving sighs that 
seemed to shatter his whole being/' and yet, at this crisis of his 
insanity, he was fully able to remark that " there was a scream 
of the wildest laughter, and my countryman sprang upon the 
floor, exclaiming, ' Ye gods, I am a locomotive !' This was his 
ruling hallucination ; and for the space of two or three hours he 
continued to pace to and fro, with a measured stride, exhaling 
his breath in violent jets ; and, when he spoke, dividing his 
words into syllables, each of which he brought out with a jerk; 
at the same time turning his hands at his sides, as if they were 
the cranks of imaginary wheels.^' The Englishman, on finding 
the drug begin to act, characteristically retired to his apartment, 
and could never be prevailed upon to relate the results. Mid- 
night arrived, though every minute appeared centuries, and the 
terrific trance still continued : 

" By this time I had passed through the paradise of hashish, and 
was plunged into its fiercest hell. . . , . The excited blood rushed 
through my frame with a sound like the roaring of mighty waters. It 
was projected into my eyes until I could no longer see ; it beat thickly 
in my ears ; and so throbbed in my heart, that I feared the ribs would 
give way under its blows. I tore open my vest, placed my hand 
over the spot, and tried to count the pulsations ; but there were two 
hearts ; one beating at the rate of a thousand beats a minute, and the 
other with a slow dull motion. My throat, I thought, was filled to 
the brim with blood, and streams of blood were pouring from my ears. 
. • . . I fled from the room, and walked over the flat terraced roof of 
the house. My body seemed to shrink and grow rigid, and my face 

to become wild, lean, and haggard Involuntarily I raised my 

hand to feel the leanness and sharpness of my face. O horror I the 
flesh had fallen from my bones, and it was a skeleton-head I carried on 
my shoulders. With one bound I sprang to the parapet, and looked 
down into the silent courtyard, then filled with the shadows thrown 
into it by the rising moon. Shall I cast myself down headlong? was 
the question I proposed to myself ; but though the horror of the skeleton 
delusion was worse than the fear of death, there was an invisible hand 
at my breast which pushed me away from the brink. I made my way 
back to the room in a state of the keenest suflering. My companion 

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108 Hashish. 

was still a locomotive, rushing to and fro, and jerking out bis syllables 
with the disjointed accent peculiar to a steam-engine. His mouth had 
turned to brass, like mine, and his hand raised the pitcher to his lips 
in the attempt to moisten it; but, before he had taken a mouthful, 
set the pitcher down again with a yell of laughter, cryiug out, * How 
can I take water into my boiler, while I am letting off steam V " 

Mr. Taylor tells us that he was too far gone to fall into the 
absurdity of this. He felt himself sinking deeper and deeper 
into unutterable agony and despair. There was nothing resem- 
bling ordinary pain; but a distress, from tension of nerve, which, 
could not be described, because unlike any previous experience, 
and which was far worse than any pain. The remnant of the will 
was gradually disappearing, without any corresponding diminu- 
tion of consciousness ; and a dreadful fear arose that what he was 
now suffering was real and permanent insanity. Indeed, it ap- 
pears from a fact mentionea by Dr. Madden in his Travels in 
Turkey y 6fC., that this fear was not so groundless as Mr. Taylor 
afterwards came to regard it. Dr. Madden assures us that out 
of thirteen male inmates of a Turkish madhouse, no fewer than 
four had gone mad from over-doses of hashish. The rest of this 
profoundly interesting and vi\ddly-expressed description, which 
\ve have reluctantly abridged, must be given in Mr. Taylor's 

" The thought of death, which also haunted me, was far less bitter 
than this dread. I knew that in the struggle which was going on in 
my frame, I was borne fearfully near the dark gulf; and the thought 
that, at such a time, both reason and will were leaving my brain, filled 
me with an agony, the depth and blackness of which I should vainly 
attempt to portray. I threw myself on my bed, the excited blood stiU 
roaring wildly in my ears, my heart throbbing with a force that seemed 
to be rapidly wearing away my life, my throat dry as a potsherd, and 
my stiffened tongue cleaving to the roof of my mouth. My companion 
was approaching the same condition ; but as the effect of the drug upon 
him had beeii less violent, so his stage of suffering was more clamorous. 
He cried out to me that he was dying, and reproached me vehemently 
because I lay there silent, motionless, and apparently careless of his 
danger. * Why will he disturb me V I thought * He thinks he is dying, 
but what is death to madness? Let him die; a thousand deaths were 
more easily borne than the pangs I suffer.' AVhile I was sufficiently 
conscious to hear his exclamations, they only provoked my keen anger ; 
but after a time, my senses became clouded, and I sank into a stupor. 
As near as I can judge, this must have been three o*clock in the morn- 
ing, rather more than five hours after the hashish began to take effect. 
I lay thus all the following day and night, in a state of blank oblivion^ 
broken only by a single wandering gleam of consciousness. I recollect 
hearing Franqois' voice. He told me afterwards that I rose, attempted 
to dress myself, drank two cups of coffee, and then fell back into the 

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Hashish. 109 

same death-like Btupor ; but of all this I did XK>t retain the least knov' 
ledge. On the morning of the second day, after a sleep oftlwrty hourSf 
I awoke again to the world, with a system utterly prostrate and un- 
strung, and a brain. clouded with the lingering images of my visions. 
I knew where I was, and what had happened to me ; but all that I saw 
still remained unreal and shadowy. There was no taste in what I ate, 
no refreshment in what I drank ; and it required a painful eftbrt to 
comprehend what was said to me, and return a coherent answer. Will 
ftnd reason had come back, but they still sat unsteadily on their thrones. 
My friend, who was much further advanoed in his recovery, accompa- 
nied me to the adjoining bath, which I hoped would assist in restoring 
me. It was with great difficulty that I preserved the outward appear* 
anoe of consciousness. In spite of myself, a veil now and then fell 
over my mind ; and after wandering for years, as it seemed, in some 
distant world, I awoke with a shock to find myself in the steamy halls 
of the bath, "with a brown Syrian polishing my limbs. ... A glass of 
very acid sherbet was presented to me ; and after drinking it, I expe- 
rienced instant relief. Still the spell was not wholly broken, and for 
two or three days I continued subject to frequent involuntary fits of 
absence, which made me insensible for the time to all that was passing 
around me. I walked the streets of Damascus with a strange con- 
sciousness that I was in some other place at the same time, and with 
a constant effort to reunite my divided perceptions. Previous to the 
experiment, we had decided on making a bargain for the journey to 
Palmyra. .... But all the charm which lay in the name of Palmyra, 
and the romantic interest of the trip, was gone. I was without courage 
and without energy, and nothing remained for me but to leave Da- 

Yet, fearful as my rash experiment proved to me, I did not regret 
having made it. It revealed to me deeps of rapture and of suffering 
which my natural faculties never could have sounded. It has taught 
me the majesty of human reason and of human will, even in the 
weakest ; and the awful peril of tampering with that which assails .their 

The action of hashish^ like that of opinm^ is very different 
with different persons. We have heard of several attempts to 
excite the fantasia proving utter failures ; indeed, failure seems 
to be far more frequent than success. Probably the experience 
of M. de Saulcy and his friends, recorded in his Journey round 
the Dead Sea, would be that of at least nine English, or Prencli, 
hashish-eaters out of ten. '^ The experiment/^ says this tra- 
veller, " to which we had recourse for an amusement, proved so 
extremely disagreeable^ that I may say with certainty that none 
of us is likely to wish to try it again. Hashish is an abominabla 
poison, . . . which we had the folly to take in excessive doses one 
New- Year's day. We expected a delightful evening ; but were 
nearly killed through our imprudence. I, who had taken the 
largest dose, remained insensible for above twenty-four hours; 

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110 Hashish. 

after which I woke to find myself completely shattered in nerves, 
and subject to nervous spasms and incoherent dreams, whicli 
seemed to last hundreds of years/^ 

It is to be observed, that almost all the foregoing experiments 
were made with doses far greater than are usually taken by ha- 
bitual hashish-eaters in the East. According to Dr. O'Shaugh- 
nessy, half-a-grain is considered a sufficient quantity to be taken 
at a time in India. There is no proof that, when taken with. 
moderation, and with the purpose only of causing the gentle ex- 
hilaration produced by a prudent use of wine or tea, the one 
would be more damaging than the others. The testimonies of 
Dr. Bumes, Dr. Macpherson, and Dr. Eatwell (quoted by John- 
ston), concerning the amount of effect produced by opium in 
countries where it is habitually taken, might probably stand 
good for hashish also. Dr. Bumes, long resident at the court 
of Scinde, writes, that " in general the natives do not suffer much 
from the use of opium. It does not seem to destroy the powers 
of the body, or to enervate the mind, to the degree that might 
be imagined.'^ Dr. Macpherson observes of the Chinese, that 
" although the habit of smoking opium is universal among rich 
and poor, yet they are a powerful, muscular, and athletic people ; 
and the lower orders more intelligent, and far superior in mental 
acquirements, to those of corresponding rank in our own coun- 
try.^' Dr. Eatwell writes : 

^'The question to be determined is, not what are the effects of 
opium used in excess, but what are its effects on the moral and phy- 
sical constitution of the mass of individuals who use it habitually, and 
in moderation, either as a stimulant to sustain the firame under fatigue, 
or as a restorative and sedative after labour, bodily or mental ? Having 
passed three years in China, I can affirm thus far, that the effects of 
the abuse of the drug do not come very frequently under observation ; 
and that when cases do occur, the habit is frequently found to have 
been induced by the presence of some painful chronic disease, to escape 
from the sufferings of which the patient has fled to this resource. . . . 
There are doubtless many who indulge in the habit to a pernicious ex- 
tent, led by the same morbid influences which induce men to become 
drunkards in even the most civilised countries; but these cases do not, 
at all events, come before the public eye. As regards the effects of the 
habitual use of the drug on the mass of the people, I must affirm that 
no injurious results are visible. ... I conclude, therefore, that proofe 
are wanting to show that the moderate use of opium produces more 
pernicious effects upon the constitution than the moderate use of spiritu- 
ous liquors ; whilst, at the same time, it is certain that the consequences 
.of the former are less appalling in their effects upon the victim, and 
less disastrous to society at large, than the consequences of the abuse of 
the latter.** Fharmaceutical Journal, vol. xi. - 

Hashish is now in considerable use as a medicament, under 

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Hashish. Ill 

the name of Cannabis indica; and its therapeutic application 
seems destined to be much extended^ particularly in connection 
with nervous derangements^ as its pi'operties become better un- 
derstood. Indeed, the above statements with reference to the 
comparative innoeuousness of moderate opium-eating, ^nd the 
facts, that hashish is habitually used by between two and three 
hundred millions, and that it is, if any thing, less injurious than 
opium, and much more generally pdatable, suggest the possi- 
bility of its one day becoming an article of extensive consump- 
tion among us. Its eflPects, when moderately taken, greatly re- 
semble those of tea; and it is a curious fact, that the effects of 
tea, in excessive strength, are not unlike those of hashish. Most 
persons have their nervous system unstrung and shattered for a 
time by excess in the beverage "which cheers but not inebriates,^' 
and such seems to be the effect on most persons of too much 
hashish; but furthermore, insensibility and hallucination are 
produceable by tea as well as hashish. The friend who supplied 
ns with his hashish-experiences also supplies us with the follow- 
ing account of the result of an excess in tea-drinking. The re- 
semblance to some of the most peculiar effects of hashish in large 
doses will strike all who have read the foregoing pages : 

''Being under an unusual stress of work, which demanded great 
activity of brain, I had recourse, as usual, to tea for excitement. For 
several days successively I took a basin of very strong tea four or five 
times a-day. One night, as I was sitting alone with my mother and 
writing, I felt a sudden dizziness overcome me immediately after a 
draught of tea stronger than any I had taken yet, and requested my 
mother to get me a glass of sherry from the sideboard. Consciousness 
of surrounding objects left me, and I fell into a dream, which I can 
only describe by saying that it was indescribably terrific. It seemed 
to last for ages, and I awoke with the horror of a soul which had been 
an eternity in hell. My mother was standing before me with the 
sherry. I asked her how long I had been insensible. She asked me 
what I meant ; she had just returned with the sherry, not having been 
absent half-a-minute." 

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[ 112 ] 

Art. v.— BEN JONSON. 

Poetical Works of Ben Jonson. Edited by Robert Bell. liondoii : 
John W. Parker and Son, 1856. 

The Works of Bm Jonson. With Notes, Ac. By W. Gifford, Esq. 

The American lady who insists upon merging tke existence of 
Shakespeare in the philosophy of Bacon is not entirely with- 
out excuse for her infatuation. Shakespeare is an impalpable 
sort of being. Among the men of his own time, he shows like 
tradition does by the side of history. He was born at Stratford- 
on- Avon. Did he poach some deer? He went to London. 
Perhaps he was a link-boy ; undoubtedly he was a player. &e 
used to be witty at the Mermaid. He married a wife. He 
died, and is buried. He disliked the idea of his bones being 
disturbed, or somebody else disliked it for him. There is a 
bust of him ; we wonder if it is like. He wrote a vast number 
of personal sonnets, which tell us nothing of his own life ; — of 
many of the best of them we cannot say whether they are ad- 
iiressed to man or woman. We want to know how his name 
is spfe^Aftd, and find he spelled it different ways himself The 
most pers^yering bloodhounds of biography have been on his 
trail for a hUTvdsed years — every clue has been unravelled, 
every hint exhausteSj-^nd the result has been a few minute 
details which in every othtr case would have been considered 
unworthy the chronicling. Many ingenious suppositions have 
been vented ; but the sum of tbe matter is, we know nothing 
about him. Of what the man himself was, " in his habit as 
he lived/' we can form no idea be^^ond a certain faint lustre 
about him of cheerful companionship and gentle equanimity. 
Of the sort of temperament and genius be must have possessed 
his works give us a sufficient idea; but a& to the actual human 
character, as displayed in life, we are utterly in the dark. Far 
different is the case with Jonson. Shakespeare is the name of 
a number of plays. Ben Jonson is the nam^ of a man in the 
flesh — a burly man, who wrote The Fox and l/rink to me ordy 
with thine eyes. 

It is of the very essence of the two men's gei^ius that they 
should be thus distinguished. The one was like d mountain — 
large, strong, deep-rooted — which all the world's changes leave 
unmoved in its massive independence: the oth^r was like 
the light — diffused, all-penetrating, setting forth all shapes, , 
displaying all hues, a vesture of interpretation to the world ; 

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BenJonson. 113 

really ever the same in itself, yet so adapting itself to every 
new condition as to seem to melt into the nature of things 
with which it comes in contact. The mountain jSxes our at- 
tention on itself. By the light we see all things ; but what it 
is itself, we neither see nor know. The one was Ajax, mighty 
in his strength ; the other Proteus, powerful in his changes. 
Shakespeare lived in the world, and absorbed without effort 
all the knowledge that came across him; Jonson conquered ■ 
knowledge by persevering and strenuous effort. He was learned 
and observant; Shakespeare was wise and penetrating. The 
one retires behind the screen of his works ; the other thrusts 
forward his own individuality on every possible occasion — in 
prologues, in epilogues, in dialogues ; he is his own critic, and 
his own approver ; he is the hero of one of his own plays, and 
trumpets to the world his enmities and his friendships — his 
merits, his vices, his repentances, his wrongs, his sufferings, his 
needs, down to the very deformities of body that years bring 
with them — his stooping shoulders, his " mountain belly," and 
his " hundreds of gray hairs." 

Yet, contrasted as he stands with the greatest genius of 
all times, Jonson justly claims something of a fellowship in 
greatness. He was a large man altogether, massive and some- 
what unshapely both in mind and body ; " solid but slow 
in his performances;" of a bold spirit and jovial tempera- 
ment. His countenance, harsh and rugged — "rocky," as he 
himself calls it — was the index of an intellect which, though 
not remarkable for depth either of insight or thought, was 
strong, aggressive, and capacious; and its stores, laboriously 
compiled, were in the grasp of a tenacious memory. Some men 
owe their preeminence to fineness of intellect and delicacy of 
organisation — characteristics not inconsistent with strength and 
pliancy, and which are the attributes of the highest genius ; 
but there are others, who work out effects scarcely inferior by 
heavier blows with a blunter tool. The power of unremitting 
labour, the strength of unfailing self-reliance, the independence 
of callousness, are among the advantages such men possess. 
Jonson was a man of coarse fibre ; so was- Cromwell, so was 
Milton, so was Samuel Johnson, so was Olive, so, in a still 
greater degree, was Luther. 

Jonson began life near the bottom ; for though his grand- 
father was a gentleman and came from Carlisle, his father lost 
his estate by forfeiture under Queen Mary, and died early ; and 
his mother married again in a lower rank. Her second hus- 
band was a bricklayer, and her son, after having been edu- 
cated at Westminster School, was destined to his stepfather's 
craft It is told he worked in the building of Lincoln's Inn, 


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114 Ben Jonson. 

with a trowel in his hand and a book in his pocket. But he 
was of those men who shoulder their way through the world 
as a giant does through a crowd. He left his hod and trowel to 
serve in the army in Flanders; whence he soon returned to 
London, to throw himself on the support of a life of literary ad- 
venture. There he found means to prosecute his studies, and to 
live — precariously enough at first, no doubt — as a playwright, 
and probably partly also as an actor. From these humble be- 
ginnings, he raised himself to a higher social standing than any 
dramatic poet of his day. In King James's time he was a fre- 
quenter of the court, and tells us that for twenty years he had 

" Eaten with the beauties and the wits 
And braveries of court, and felt their fits 
Of love and hate.'* 

His convivial talents were .great, and no doubt recommended 
him not less than his learning and genius. He was intimate 
with many of the nobility ; and though his connection with 
them probably partook in great measure of the relation of 
client to patron, there were some young men both of genius 
and noble birth — among whom he who was afterwards known 
as Lord Falkland may be instanced — who viewed him with 
affection and veneration as their literary father. The great 
writers of his time were his familiar associates. Shakespeare, 
Sir Walter Raleigh, Donne, and Beaumont ranked among his 
nearest friends ; Selden loved him, and asked his judgment 
on his Titles of Honour; and he speaks of Lord Bacon as if 
he had personally known him. He was Master of Arts in both 
the Universities "by their favour, not his study.'' Altogether it 
is clear that in his prime he stood in the very first rank of 
the men of letters of his day. If not the greatest, he was 
esteemed the most perfect play-writer of the time ; but high 
as was his reputation, it was supported rather by the opinion 
of the judges than by the applause of the people. He insisted 
so strenuously and passionately that he was master of the 
true rules of art, and wrote nothing which was not excellent 
and admirable, if the hearers could but learn to understand, 
that the world in general seems to have been content to believe 
him rather tha^ enter on the arduous task of contradicting 
him. Still the belief was rather a cold one. The learned 
critics admitted his plays to be miracles of art ; but, with two 
or three exceptions, the people did not very much care to see 
them acted. Nor is this to be wondered at, when we con- 
sider how different his compositions were from all they had 
hitherto been accustomed to admire. He stood alone in his 
own times, as indeed he stands alone in the whole history of 
English literature. 

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Ben Jonson. 115 

The mass of the plays of his time were remarkable for their 
utter disregard of scenic proprieties : they made no regard of 
place and time. The French code of dramatic unities had not 
as yet been deduced from the ancient models. Each man, under 
the sole limitation of a few general rules of practice, followed 
the bent of his own taste, and the suggestions of his own know- 
ledge. Plays consisted for the most part of alternating scenes 
of passion and humour, carelessly connected and huddled into 
some sort of plot, and mingled with dances and scenic display 
to catch the eyes of the spectators. Shakespeare was by nature 
a law unto himself; his plays are symmetrical and harmonious 
not from study or the observance of ascertained rules, but from 
the insensible moulding of a genius whose native sense of 
symmetry and harmony transcended all that art had hitherto 
attained to. But setting Shakespeare aside, nothing can be more 
unsatisfactory than the headlong conduct and distorted propor- 
tion of the minor Elizabethan plays. Exceptions there are, no 
doubt ; but we are speaking of the broad features which dis- 
tinguished them. As we have said, to express passion is their 
aim; and passion has received at their hands a more vivid, 
natural, and often terrible utteranoa, than from any other 
literature. Its milder and every-day manifestations have been 
recorded in the language of tenderness and beauty ; and its 
wildest vagaries, its profoundest horrors, its most fierce and its 
most unnatural delmquencies, have been dragged from their 
native darkness and thrust naked upon the scene. The poetry 
of these plays shines in fitful gleams of splendour; human 
nature is at times laid bare by some strange and startling 
revelation of masterly insight, and at times burlesqued by 
some ridiculous caricature ; the humour, much of which is lost 
upon us, often degenerates into the purest folly and buffoon- 
ery. In the midst of the men rioting in this unrestrained 
liberty appeared Jonson, with an intellect naturally orderly, 
and trained by a long course of attentive and self-imposed 
study. Thoroughly conversant with the dramatic productions 
of the ancients, and the critical rules connected with them, he 
made them his models and his tests of excellenca But he was 
much too great to imitate them without discrimination. He 
adapted them in the most skilful manner to modern condi- 
tions, and shows himself at once deeply versed in the ancient 
forms and modes of expression, and thoroughly and person- 
ally acquainted with the manners of his own times. Instead 
of loosely linking scenes of passion, he makes it the glory of 
his art to build up well-proportioned plays, and to manifest 
skill and judgment in arrangement of scene, and choice of 
fable, action, and language. His plays may be said, with very 

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116 BenJonson. 

little exaggeration, to be absolutely destitute both of passion 
and feeling; but they contain powerful pictures of vice, and 
most witty pillorying of the prevailing absurdities in conduct 
and manners — the 

*^ Folly and brainsick humours of the times." 

In the advertisement to the reader prefixed to ITie Alchy- 
mist, he sets forth very clearly, and somewhat more modestly 
than is his wont, the relation in which he conceives himself to 
stand towards his contemporaries : 


If thou beest more, thou art an understander, and then I trust 
thee. If thou art one that takest up, and but a Pretender, beware of 
what hands thou receivest thy commodity: for thou wert never more 
fair in the way to be cosened than in this age, in Poetry, especially in 
Plays : wherein, now the concupiscence of dances and of antics so 
reigneth, as to run away from Nature, and be afraid of her, is the only 
part of art that tickles the spectators. But how out of purpose, and 
place, do I name art ? When the professors are grown so obstinate 
contemners of it, and presumers on their own naturals, as they are 
deriders of all diligence that way, and, by simple mocking at the terms 
when they understand not the things, think to get off wittily with their 
ignorance. Nay, they are esteemed the more learned, and sufficient 
for this, by the many, through their excellent vice of judgment. For 
they commend writers, as they do fencers or wrestlers ; who, if they 
come in robustuously, and put for it with a great deal of violence, are 
received for the braver fellows ; when many times their own rudeness 
is the cause of their disgrace, and a little touch of their adversary gives 
all that boisterous force the foil. I deny not but that these men, who 
always seek to do more than enough, may sometime happen on some- 
thing that is good and great, but very seldom ; and when it comes it 
doth not recompense the rest of their ill. It sticks out, perhaps, and 
is more eminent, because all is sordid and vile about it : as lights are 
more discerned in a thick darkness, than a faint shadow. I speak not 
this out of a hope to do good to any man against his will; for I know, 
if it were put to the question of theirs and mine, the worst would find 
more suffrages : because the most favour common errors. But I g^ve 
thee this warning, that there is a great difference between those that, 
to gain the opinion of copy,* utter all they can, however unfitly ; and 
those that use electioa and a mean. For it is only the disease of the 
unskilful, to think rude things greater than polished ; or scattered more 
numerous than composed." 

The neyfr style did not at once gain favour ; but Jonson 
was not the sort of man to have any hesitation where the fault 
lay. He was always " the first best judge in his own cause." 
No man ever believed more implicitly in himself, or insisted 

* ue. copia, — to gain credit for fertility. 

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BenJonson. 117 

more pertinaciously that others should do so too. He extrava- 
gantly over-estimated the orderly, classical, sensible side of art, 
to which both his nature and his studies drew him ; and being 
here clearly unapproached, he measured his relations to other 
men by his own rule, and set himself far above them. He was 
wont in his pleasant hours to call himself "the poet" He 
told Drummond "he was better versed, and knew more in 
Greek and Latin than all the poets in England, and quint- 
essence their brains." So far was he from submitting his plays 
to the judgment of the public, that he exactly reversed the pro- 
cess, and regarded an unhesitating approbation of what he had 
written as the test of intellect in his audience. A competent 
critic was one who praised him. If you did not like what he 
wrote, it was a proof you* did not comprehend him, and were 
therefore not capable of judging him. To hiss him off the 
stage, was to be below the beasts in understanding. Censure 
did not humble him or affect him otherwise than as an irrita- 
tion, because he had a genuine heartfelt contempt for the capa- 
city of any person who thought he wrote amiss. 

A few extracts from his prologues will show that we have 
not overstated his own self-estimate, or his scorn for popular 
criticism. In the prologue to The Alchymist he boldly asks for 
mere justice : 

^* Fortune, that fEtvours fools, these two short hours 
We wish away, both for jour sake and ours, 
Judging spectators ; and desire i' th' place 
To th' author justice." 

For the Staple of News (a very indifferent play) he makes a 
much bolder claim : 

** Great noble wits, be good unto yourselves, 
And make a difference 'twixt poetic elves 
And poets ; all that dabble in the ink, 
And defile quills, are not those few can think, 
Conceive, express, and steer the souls of men, 
As with a rudder, round, thus, with their pen. 
He must be one that can instruct your youth, 
And keep your acme in the state of truth ; 
Must enterprise this work. Mark but his ways, 
What flight he makes ; how new ; and then he saya^ 
If that not like you that he sends to-night, 
'Tis you have left to judge— not he to write." 

Both the dedication to the Earl of Pembroke and the ad- 
dress prefixed to the tragedy of Catiline are worth quoting as 
specimens of the eye wim which the author regarded his own 
work, and the temper in which he approached the public : 

" Mt Lord, — In so thick and dark an ignorance, as now almost 
covers the age, I crave leave to stand near your light, and by ihut to-be 

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118 BenJonson. 

read. Posterity may pay your benefit the honoar and tlianks, when it 
shall know that you dare, in these jig-given times, to countenance a 
legitimate poem. I call it so against all noise of opinion ; from whose 
crude and airy reports I appetd to the great and singular faculty of 
judgment in your lordship, able to vindicate truth from error. It is 
the first of this race, that ever I dedicated to any person j and had I 
not thought it the best, it should have been taught a less ambition. 
Now it approacheth your censure cheerfully, and with the same assur- 
ance that innocency would appear before a magistrate. 

Your Lordship^s most faithful honourer, 

Ben Jonsok. 

to the reader in ordinary. 

The Muses forbid that I should restrain your meddling, whom I 
see already busy with the title, and tricking over the leaves : it is 
your own. I departed with my right when I let it first abroad ; and 
now, so secure an interpreter I am of my chance, that neither praise 
nor dispraise from you can affect me. Though you commend the 
two first acts, with the people, because they are the worst, and dislike 
the oration of Cicero, in regard you read some pieces of it at school, 
and understand them not yet : I shall find the way to forgive you. 
Be any thing you will be at your own charge. Would I had de- 
served but half so well of it in translation, as that ought to deserve of 
you in judgment, if you have any. I know you will pretend, whoso- 
ever you are, to have that, and more : but all pretensions are not just 
claims. The commendation of good things may fall within a many, 
the approbation but in a few ; for the most commend out of affection, 
self-tickling, uneasiness, or imitation : but men judge only out of 
knowledge. That is the trying faculty : and to those works that will 
bear a judge, nothing is more dangerous than a foolish praise. You 
will say, I shall not have yours therefore ; but rather the contrary, all 
vexation of censure. If I were not above such molestations now, I 
had great cause to think unworthily of my studies, or they had so of 
me. But I leave you to your exercise. Begin. 


You I would understand to be the better man, though places in 
court go otherwise : to you I submit myself and work. Farewell 

Ben Jonson.** 

Often lie invents critics of his own to stand on the stage, 
and to rebuke and inform those in the body of the theatre. 
Thus in many of his plays he introduces a special set of per- 
sonages, who appear in the intervals of the acts, and discuss 
what has gone before. These either wisely applaud, or are 
brought to condign ridicule for their censures. They form a 
sort of modem chorus, not uncommon in the plays of the time, 
and used generally for the explication of the story ; but by 
Jonson devoted to his own vindication and glorification. 

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Ben Jonson. 119 

In Ths Magnetic Lady we have an " induction" continued 
in this manner through the play. The stage is occupied by 
Master Probee and Master Damplay^ who are represented as a 
sort of delegates from the people, and are met by a boy of the 
house, who engages to stand for the poet, and tells the others 
he will venture the play, so they will undertake for the hearers 
" that they shall know a good play when they hear it, and 
will have the conscience and ingenuity [ingenuousness] beside 
to confess it" The poet, he says, " careless of all vulgar cen- 
sure, as not depending on common approbation, is confident it 
shall super-please judicious spectators." The boy is learned 
in the forms of comedy, and a thorough-going advocate of the 
cause intrusted to him. When poor Master Damplay — who exists 
only to be confuted, and is created only for the humiliating 
confession that " the boy is shrewd and has him every where" 
— when he ignorantly objects to the first act, that there is 
" nothing done in it, or concluded," he is instantly extinguished 
by his young antagonist " A fine piece of logic !" cries he ; 
^' do you look. Master Damplay, for conclusions in a protasis ? 
I thought the law of comedy had reserved them to the cata- 
strophe ; and that the epitasis, as we are taught, and the cata- 
stasis, had been intervening parts to have been expected But 
you would have it all come together, it seems ; the clock should 
strike five at once with the acts." So the learned young gen- 
tleman goes on with his confutations of all adverse criticism. 
Master Damplay, in spite of his angry claim to take out his two- 
shillings admittance-money in censure, is contemptuously bid- 
den to limit himself to so much, and not talk twenty-shillings 
worth ; his ignorance is exposed, his remonstrances peremp- 
torily silenced, and himself condemned to a miserable minority. 
" Good Master Damplay, be yourself still without a second ; 
few here are of your opinion to-day, I hope ; to-morrow I am 
sure there will be none, when they have ruminated this." So 
in The Staple of News we have gossips. Mirth, Tattle, Censure, 
and Expectation, "four gentlewomen ladylike attired," who 
appear in the same way, and are made to minister to the au- 
thor's credit by the folly of their criticisms ; and for this pur- 
pose they vent such a mass of dull old women's twaddle as 
must have tried the most patient audience, whatever their 
opinion of the play itself At other times criticisms are in- 
terspersed in the body of the play, which, under a certain 
veil of generality, are in reality special vindications of the 
author's skill and judgment. Ue never believed he deserved 
censure ; but his temper would not allow him to bear even un- 
deserved strictures with equanimity. He chafes under any 
arraignment, however contemptible, and is goaded to fury by 

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120 Ben Jonsan. 

the hooting of the despised and ignorant multitude. Neither the 
universal applause of his great plajs, nor the well-merited con- 
demnation of his bad ones, softened this impatience of spirit, 
•which grew stronger as he grew older, and was strengthened 
probably by the remembrance of old successes, and the secret 
conviction that his powers were impaired. It is in his later 
plays more especially that he uses his prologues to anticipate 
judgment, and assert a scornful independence of the spectators 
in the theatre or the readers in private. As an angry oppo- 
nent says, 

" Calling us fools and rogues, unlettered men, 
Poor narrow souls that cannot judge of Ben." 

The arrogance of temper and impatience of control which 
display themselves in his writings, cast their shadow also over 
his private relations and personal character. In 1618, about 
the time of his greatest reputation, he made a journey to Scot- 
land, walking the whole way there and back on foot During 
his stay, he passed some days with Mr. William Drummond of 
Hawthornden, the poet^ who made a note of his conversations, 
which, long known in an abbreviated form, has of late years 
been discovered and published in extenso. It is certain that 
he made no very favourable impression on his Scotch enter- 
tainer. They seem to have parted, indeed, with mutual profes- 
sions of friendship; and some letters passed between them, 
full of somewhat overdue protestations on Jonson's side, but 
cold and guarded enough on Drummond's; and their intimacy 
seems soon to have died out Indeed, we can well understand 
how this huge roistering poet from London, in his wayworn 
shoes and slovenly garments, — for Jonson we know was no great 
student of appearances, — must have jarred on the nerves of 
the retired and musing sonneteer of Hawthornden. Moreover, 
Drummond's wine seems to have been good, and that was a 
temptation Jonson never could withstand, and in his cups he 
spoke the worser part of the Veritas which was in him, as men s 
wont is; and worst of all, he criticised his host's poems in a 
curt and somewhat contemptuous manner, telling him they 
were all good, in a manner which showed he valued none of 
them at sixpence. So we have no doubt Drummond was 
heartily glad when his boisterous visitor, with his magisterial 
opinions, his boastings, his broad jests, his unruly temper, and 
his drunkenness, was fairly off the premises, and on his way 
back from Leith to Darnton fwherever that may be), in the 
same shoes he had brought witn him. And when he was quite 
gone, the half Italian half canny Scotchman set down his pri- 
vate impressions of him in a few pithy words which have since 
come to day (though it does not appear he ever meant them 

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Ben JonsofL 121 

to do so); and have stuck like a barbed arrow in the rear of his 
departing guest ever since: 

'' He [Jonson] is a great lover and praiser of himself; a contemner 
and Bcomer of others; given rather to lose a friend than a jest; jeal- 
ous of every word and action of those about him (especially after drink, 
which is one of the elements in which he liveth) ; a dissembler of ill 
parts which reign in him ; a bragger of some good that he wanteth ; 
thinketh nothing good but what either he himself or some of his 
friends and countrymen hath said or done : he is passionately kind 
and angry ; careless either to gain or keep ; vindicative, but if he be 
well answered, at himself. For any religion, as being versed in both. 
Interpreteth best sayings and doings oft to the worst. Oppressed 
with fantasie, which hath ever mastered his reason ; a general disease 
in many poets. His inventions are smooth and easy; but above all, 
he excelleth in a translation.** 

This is a harsh judgment Still there can be no doubt it 
represents with a good deal of truth one side of Jonson's cha- 
racter ; that, however, was the least estimable side, and Drum- 
mond not a very catholic judge. There is always this great 
fact in Jonson 's favour, that he was best esteemed by the 
greatest men of his day, and that his friends were numerous 
and warm — at least in his best days ; for he seems to have died 
lonely and neglected, his old associates having passed away 
with passed years, and with them his own powers of engaging 
new ones. Jonson thrust himself and his own opinions into 
his works, and may more fairly than most men be judged by 
them ; and no one who reads them but must be struck, in spite 
of the snarling satire which defaces so many of them, with the 
presence of a uniform manliness and often nobleness of tone, a 
scorn of false pretensions to merit either in himself or others, 
a largeness and fullness of nature, and a spirit which did well 
and thoroughly what it thought fit should be done, and despised 
the pettinesses and frivolities of life. That he flattered egregi- 
ously, is not a matter of much moment, in times when flattery 
was a business, and as current a coin in intercourse with the 
great as our " Dear Sir,'' and " Yours very sincerely,'' are in 
our modem letters ; and he often mingles too with his flattery 
a freer and higher tone of admonition than is common among 
his contemporaries. Such is to be found in the lines to Lady 
Digby's sons, and elsewhere ; but nowhere in a juster, nobler 
strain than in the conclusion of the epistle to his friend Master 
Colby, to persuade him to the wars : 

*^ Go, quit them all ! And take along with thee 
Thy true friend's wishes, Colby, which shall be 
That thine be just and honest, that thy deeds 
Not wound thy conscience, when thy bodj bleeds : 

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122 Ben Jonson. 

That thou doet all things more for truth than gloiy, 
And never, but for doing wrong, be sorry ; 
That by commanding first thyself, thou mak'st 
Thy person fit for any charge thou tak^st ^ 
That fortune never make thee to complain, 
But what she gives, thou dar'st give her again; 
That whatsoever face thy fate puts on, 
Thou shrink or start not, but be always one : 
That thou think nothing great but what is good. 
And from that thought strive to be understood. 
So, *live or dead, thou wilt preserve a fiime 
Still precious with the odour of thy name. 
And last, blaspheme not : we did never hear 
Man thought the valianter 'cause he durst swear ; 
No more than we should think a lord had had 
More honour in him 'cause we've known him mad. ' 
These take ; and now, go seek thy peace in war — 
Who falls for love of God^ shall rise a star." 

The sentence, " For any religion, as being versed in both," 
which occurs in Drummond's estimate, refers to his having for 
some vears professed the Catholic tenets, taking them "on 
trust ' from a priest, as he himself says, while lying in prison 
on a charge of homicide. "After he was reconciled to the 
Church," he told Drummond, " and left off to be a recusant, at 
his first communion, in token of true reconciliation, he drank 
out all the full cup of wine." 

To be considered in connection with this description by 
Drummond, are the notes preserved of Jonson's actual con- 
versation during his stay at Hawthornden. Brief and desul- 
tory as they are, they are full of interest From them are 
derived our most authentic accounts of his early career, as 
furnished by himself. They afford also a very valuable and 
curious specimen of his table-talk, and an abstract of his 
criticisms on the men of his times. His "jests and apo- 
thegms " are mostly dull, and, to modem ears at least, point- 
less.* His criticisms are outspoken, and often splenetic enough ; 
but he gives good praise too, and it is not fair to judge him 
by these hasty censures. By nature it is clear enough he was 
jealous^ and apt to take umbrage at small offences ; proud, and 
yet more vain than proud ; but when he sat down deliberately 
to record his judgment, his better nature and good sense pre- 
vailed. Something too hasty and violent he is both in censure 
and in praise; yet, in an impartial observation of all he has 
left behind him, it cannot be denied that, on the whole, he is 
candid and generous in his appreciation of his contemporaries. 
It was the fashion at one time to represent him as the most 

* The following may serve as a specimen of one of the best— jest and apothegm 
combined : " One who fired [lighted] a tobacco-pipe with a ballad, the next day 
having a sore head, swore be bad a great singling in his head, and he thought it 
was the ballad. A poet should detest a ballad-maker.*' 

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Ben Jonson. 123 

brutal and malignant of men, and especially to denounce him 
as au envious caviller against the superior genius of Shake- 
speare. Gifford, who exalts Jonson as preposterously as Malone 
and others have depreciated him, disproved this calumny very 
effectively, and made, after his wont, many ferocious assaults 
on those who had set it on foot Jonson himself always as- 
serted most strongly the absence of all personality in his plays, 
and accused those who gave a personal direction to his satire 
of making 'Hhat a libel which he meant a play;" but it is 
clear he was not always so innocent and amiable as he claimed 
to be, and there are one or two expressions which may possibly 
have been meant as a gird at Shakespeare; yet these are very 
slight innuendoes at the worst, and Jonson has left no doubtful 
record both in verse and prose of the settled estimation in 
which he held his great contemporary. His praises of others 
are in many cases lavish, and not quite sincere. He himself 
complains of the custom of the day of furnishing men's books 
with panegyrical verses, characterising it as a 

** Vicious huiDftnity, 
Than which there is not unto study a more 
Pernicious enemy;" 

and confesses that he has 

" too oft preferred 
Men past their terms, and praised some men too much.*' 

But it is not difficult to discern when his heart goes with his 
pen; and if it does so any where, it is in his lines to Selden and 
in those to Shakespeare, which, though familiar enough to most 
readers, may be cited as one of the best specimens of these sort 
of verses, which occupy so large a space in Jonson's minor 
poems. He told Drummond that Shakespeare wanted art, and 
so he did in Jonson's narrow sense of the word ; but when he 
came to write of him, the Muse whispered him the truth that 
Shakespeare needed no art beyond the reflection of his own 
harmonised mind in his poetry: 

** Triumph, my Britain, thou hast one to show 
To whom all scenes of Europe homage owe. 
He was not of an age, but for all time ! 
And all the Muses still were in their prime 
When, like Apollo, he came forth to warm 
Our ears, or like a Mercury to charm I 
Nature herself was proud of his designs, 
And joyed to wear the dressing of his lines ; 
"Which were so richly spun and woven so fit 
As, since, she will voucnsafe no other wit. 
The merry Greek, tart Aristophanes, 
Neat Terence, witty Plautus, now not please ; 
But antiquated and deserted lie, 
As they were not of Nature's familj. 

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12 i BenJonson. 

Yet muBt I not give Nature all. Thy art. 

My gentle Shakespeare must enjoy a part: 

For though the Poet's matter nature oe. 

His art must give it fashion, and that he, 

TV'ho casts to write a living line, must sweat 

(Such as thine are) an4 strike the second heat 

Upon the Muse's anvil ; turn the same, 

And himself with it, tluit he thinks to frame; 

Or for the laurel he may gain a scorn; 

For a good poet 's made as well as bom. 

And such wert thou. Look how the father's fiice 

Lives in his issue ; even so the race 

Of Shakespeare's mind and manners brightly shines 

In his well-turned and true-filed lines ; 

In each of which he seems to shake a lance. 

As brandished at the eyes of ignorance. 

Sweet swan of Avon, what a sight it were 

To see thee in our water yet appear, 

And make those flights upon tne banks of Thames 

That so did take EUza, and our James I 

But stay, I see thee in the hemisphere, 

Advanced and made a constellation there. 

Shine forth, thou star of poets! and with rage 

Or influence j chide or cheer the drooping stage ; 

Which, since thy flight from hence, hath mourned like night 

And despairs day, but for thy volume's light." 

And in his Discoveries he speaks of him in a style which, if 
more guarded and critical than his verses, shows clearly that 
at least he was not disposed wilfully to underrate his friend : 

" I remember the players have often mentioned it as an honour to 
Shakespeare that in his writing (whatsoever he penned) he never blotted 
out a line. My answer hath been, Would he had blotted a thousand ! 
Which they thought a malevolent speech. I had not told posterity this 
but for their ignorance, who chose to justify that circumstance to com- 
mend their friend by, wherein he most faulted; and to justify mine own 
candour : for I loved the man, and do honour his memory, on this sido 
idolatry, as much as any. He was (indeed) honest, and of an open and 
free nature ; had an excellent phantasy, brave notions, and gentle ex- 
pressions, wherein he flowed with that facility, that sometimes it was 
necessary he should be stopped : SuJ^hminomdus ercU, as Augustus said 
of Haterius. His wit was in his own power ; would the rule. of it had 
been so too ! Many times he fell into those things could not escape 
laughter: as when he said in the person of Cssar, one speaking to him : 
* Csesar, thou dost me wrong.' He replied : ' Ciesar did never wrong 
but with just cause,' and such-like; which were ridiculous. But he 
redeemed his vices with his virtues. There was ever more in him to 
be praised than to be pardoned." 

Jonson was sudden and fierce in his resentments, both with 
hand and pen. In early life he killed an antajo^onist in a duel 
with swords, one Gabriel a player, and lay long in prison in 
consequence ; and he told Drummond that he beat Marston, and 

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Ben Jonson, 125 

took his pistols from him. The verses on Inigo Jones, with 
whom he quarrelled after having been long a fellow-labourer 
in the Court Masques, are as scurrile railing as was ever vented, 
and his works contain abundant proof that he was neither 
nice nor sparing in invective. But his quarrels do not seem to 
have been long-lived. He was reconciled to both Dekker and 
Marston, his greatest literary foes; and he withdrew his attack 
on Inigo Jones in the fear of its injuring his own interests at 
court ; a result, however, which he was not successful in ward- 
ing off. His employment both in the court and in the city was 
withdrawn ; and he seems to have spent some of the last years 
of his life in penury and misery, confined to his house in West- 
minster by painful and complicated disease. A brief ray of pity 
from the Earl of Newcastle and the king gilded his final hours. 
He died on the 6th of August 1637, and lies buried in West- 
minster Abbey, under his terse and well-known epitaph, " 
rare Ben Jonson." 

No question has ever been raised as to which are Jonson's 
masterpieces : 

*' The Fox, the Alchymist, and Silent Woman, 
Done by Ben Jonson, and outdone by no man." 

These stand quite apart from all his other efforts, — from the 
freer but less matured and less characteristic efforts of his ear- 
lier years, such as The Case is altered, and Every Man in his 
Humour, — from his two great but unwieldy tragedies, and from 
his later comedies, marked by various degrees of decadence. 
The infinite superiority of these three as a class is apparent ; 
but there has been some difference of opinion as to their rela- 
tive excellence. For ourselves, we should feel disposed to re- 
verse the order in which the popular distich above has arranged 
them. Gifford gave the palm to The A Ichyviist; but The Fox has 
always had a certain prescriptive claim to the first placa It 
perhaps displays in greater force than any other all the most 
marked peculiarities of its authors genius; but if it shine, as it 
unquestionably does, with his excellences, it bears at the same 
time more deeply than the other two the stamp of his defects. 
It is a vast effort of wit and invention ; but the effort is too 
overt It is planned with consummate art, and conducted with 
exquisite skill; but the rigorous conditions of art under which 
it IS written are not sufficiently disguised. It wants breadth, 
grace, and freedom. We feel shut in by fences of conventional 
criticism and walls of learning. Jonson wanted, above all things, 
discursiveness and flexibility of imagination ; and The Fox is far 
more narrow and rigid than either The Silent Woman or The 
Alchymist The monotony of rhythm and mode of expression. 

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126 Ben Jonsan. 

which gives a laboured and strained air to all his plays written 
in verse, and makes us ever sensible of an artificial atmosphere, 
is here more than usually prominent The plays of Shakespeare 
spring like branching trees from the ground, and the fresh winds 
and sparkling light play through their foliage: but Jonson's are 
inner rooms, like the theatre in which they were to be acted ; 
the air is heavy, and the lights are oil. In Shakespeare, every 
character has a separate language, and every play a separate 
cast of metre. In Jonson, the fools, the knaves, the scholars, 
the courtiers, the gentlemen, the women, — those who are most 
elevated, of whom there are few, and those who are most de- 
based, of whom there are many, — all speak in the same set form, 
the same style, to borrow a word usually employed only of com- 
position in writing. It is as if they had all learned to speak from 
one schoolmaster, with a very distinctive manner of his own. 
It is not that their language and ideas are indistinguishable, 
— it is not of this we are now speaking; but that there is a cer- 
tain system of collocating words, a cast of utterance common to 
them all It is the same sort of thing that strikes one in reading 
plays in a foreign language not perfectly familiar to us ; the 
same which all, except the very greatest scholars, and perhaps 
they too, if they would confess it, feel in reading Aristophanes, 
or Plautus, or Terence. It arises in these cases mainly, no 
doubt, from a want of susceptibility to niceties of difference 
which do exist, if we could perceive them; but in Jonson these 
differences are in a great degree really absent His famili- 
arity with the classical drama^ which, as we have said, must 
always seem to a modern more homogeneous in expression than 
it really is, no doubt tended to blind him to his own deficiency 
in this respect. He wants, indeed, all those minor arts of dis- 
tinguishing his persons which suggest themselves intuitively to 
many inferior minds, and make indeed with them, part of the 
character conceived. But Jonson ran every thing through the 
filter of his own preconceived ideas of propriety of expression. 
You must read him very attentively to see how true and marked 
his distinctions really are; for though not deep, they are both 
marked and true, and in a hasty first perusal you may some- 
times be confused as to who is speaking. But this is a blemish 
much more prominent in the closet than on the stage. A cer- 
tain limitedness lies deep in the whole nature of Jonson. You 
cannot say absolutely his mind is a narrow one, in some re- 
spects it seems broad and comprehensive; but it is one of those 
minds with rigid palpable boundaries, within which you are 
always sensible of being confined. This is peculiarly true of 
his imagination; there is always a certain prisoned air about it 
Its highest characteristic is its great constructive power. 

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Ben Jonson. 127 

His best plots are strikingly good; clear, even when com- 
plex ; well knit, skilfully developed. In many of them — as in 
The FoXy and still more in The Silent Woman — ^the dSnouement 
lies absolutely hidden up to the very last scene, and is then 
made with singular sharpness and clearness ; the knot seems 
cut by a razor rather than disentangled. The unities are ob- 
served with great but not slavish strictness ; foir Jonson, though 
an ardent admirer of the ancients, had nothing of the spirit of 
subservience either in his art or in his life. He departs as he 
sees occasion from the rules sanctioned by authority and an- 
cient practice, and many of his plays are models of careful and 
ingenious construction. Each scene supports the next, every 
speech forwards the action; and the folds of the plot are com- 
plicated without confusion, and smoothed in the end without 
force. His constructive skill specially adapted him for writing 
masques ; and in these the rich and varied scope afforded for 
scenic display, and the ingenuity and fertility of mind em- 
ployed in the devices, contrast strongly with the poverty of 
the poetical part ; for it is impossible to deny that Jonson's 
harvest of poetry is won from a land naturally poor in this 
direction, and enriched by high cultivation. His mind was 
powerful and energetic, and rich in the resources accumulated 
by a vast memory and an unflagging industry. He came to 
poetry as to a great and worthy task, and bending his faculties 
to it with all the force of which they were capable, he achieved 
great things ; but his work bears the marks of his toil. Every 
stone in his stately and finished edifices is marked with the 
hammer. The special imagination of the poet — as distinguished 
from that which either conceives without creation, or uses other 
arts to interpret its creations — is an imagination inseparably 
bound up with language, possessed by the infinite beauty and 
the deepest subtlest meanings of words, skilled in their finest 
sympathies, powerful to make them yield a meaning which 
another could never have extracted from them. It is a faculty 
, that no study can give, though it may of course strengthen it ; 
it is to the poet what an eye for colours, and a power to com- 
bine them, is to the painter — what an ear for harmony is to the 
composer. It is of the essence of the poet's art, so that in the 
highest exercise of that art there is no such thing as the render- 
ing of an idea in appropriate language ; but the conception 
and the words in which it is conveyed are a simultaneous 
creation, and the idea springs forth full-grown in its panoply of 
radiant utterance. Hence the highest poetry cannot be trans- 
lated. You may do two things : you may, as precisely as the 
two languages will admit, furnish the naked idea and the equi- 
valent words ; or you may write a new poem, completely mas- 

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128 Ben Jonson. 

terinc^ the whole meaning and poetry of the original, and repro- 
ducing it in its true poetic form in your own language : but in 
neither case can you convey to one ignorant of the translated 
language precisely the same emotions and suggestions that 
would have been roused in him by a perusal of the original. 
You cannot sunder spirit and flesL But Ben Jonson always 
wrote on the assumption that you could. It would be too 
much to say he never struck out at one flash a line or a phrase 
in which the expression was the solely appropriate and indis- 
soluble garment of the meaning ; but such lines are most rare 
in him. In this respect, — and it is a most essential one, — ^he 
stands far below others of that great dramatic age who in 
many other respects — in judgment, in vigour, in art, in know- 
ledge — must yield him due precedence ; — ^far below (to put 
Shakespeare, Fletcher, and Beaumont aside) Ford ; below Hey- 
wood, Marston, Middleton, and Webster ; far, far below Mar- 
lowe, and even Massinger, who, great as he is, is not amon^ 
the first in the possession of the special poetic faculty. Jonson 
never forces language till it cracks with the strain imposed on 
it, in striving to convey something which language scarcely can 
convey. He.never would have spoken of 

" Heaveu's cherubim horsed 
Upon the sightless couriers of the wmd." 

He thought that to make Csesar say, 

'* Csesar did never wrong but with just cause," • 

was absolute nonsense ; and so it would be in any other man's 
mouth ; but in Caesar's mouth, can any thing more fully ex- 
press the sweeping self-centred ambition, the inordinate self- 
reliance of the mind, than this sort of assumption that a thing 
which from any other would be a wrong, or even in its own 
nature was so, yet, coming from him, the relations in which it 
stood were so mighty, so distinct from all others, as to be 
capable of giving it an impress of right ? Can any thing be 
conceived more imperious than the haughty claim Avhich lies 
hidden in the words, that Caesar's needs had power to change * 
the moral aspects of things ? This way of conveying meanings 
by suggestion rather than expression was intolerable to Jon- 
son ; there is nothing he treats with more contempt than the 
absence of a specific meaning definitely expressed. His own 

* This line is not to be found in Shakespeare's printed works; but Jonson's 
stricture is pretty good evidence Shakespeare once used it. It is scarcely possible 
the only phrase at all like it nonr to be found in Jidius Catar^ could have been 
utterly misquoted by one whose memory was so good as Jonson's. Probably he 
heard the line he quotes at the theatre ; and very possibly too it was altered 
nn his remonstrance : for a poet may write what is good, ana find himself unable 
to defend it. 

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Ben Jonson. 129 

style, both in verse and prose, is often harsh and cumbrous ; 
but he never wrote without knowing with exactness what he 
meant to say ; and though occasionally there may be some ob- 
scurity, from a pedantic or involved form of expression, there 
is a certain unmistakable meaning always there. For what he 
esteemed correctness, he thought no sacrifice too great It was 
his habit to write his poetry by first setting down his ideas in 
prose, and then translating them into verse. It is impossible to 
believe he always followed this course, because he has written a 
little, though very little, genuine poetry ; but the mass of his 
writings very well bear out his statement to Drummond, that 
this was his mode of writing. He learned it, he said) from his 
master Camden. Jonson's language is copious, nervous, exact, 
discriminating, but it is very seldom felicitous ; and his meta- 
phors, which are a part of the poet's language, run in the same 
track — they are very rarely indeed of the essence of his matter. 
His will enters largely into his imagination ; he gives it a nar- 
row field, and compels it to exhaust it Hence he seeks effect 
by the cumulation of ideas and epithet& His studied poetical 
outbursts, among which may be specially indicated the speeches 
of Volpone and Sir Epicure Mammon, are all in the nature 
of minute and highly worked description. This is work in 
which knowledge and learning telL Hence, too, his comic 
genius is a genius of caricature and exaggeration. He takes a 
character or a situation, and confining himself strictly to it, 
exhausts with a wonderful skill and perseverance all the ele- 
ments of satire and ridicule that can be found in it, Shake- 
speare is always playing on the edge of his subject, and pur- 
suing it along the infinite threads which unite it with other 
things. Jonson is always concentrated on the very matter in 
hand, which he cuts off from its connections and considers 
apart, turns it round and inside out, and drains to the very 
dregs all its elements of humour. 

" He hath consumed a whole night," so he told Drummond, 
" in lying looking to his great toe, about which he hath seen 
Tartars and Turks, Romans and Carthaginians, fight in his 
imagination." This is vastly characteristic. Observe the point- 
^avpui which he takes in his great toe, and how he deals with 
dennite warriors about whom he knows something. Having 
this tangible groundwork, there is no limit to the changes he 
can ring, or the extremes his fancy can reconcile ; on that 
little space he can marshal his armies with varied adventures 
the whole night. There is something very remarkable in this 
patient occupation of the imagination with one theme, which 
is observable in all Jonson's writings. * Out of how few and 
narrow elements is The Fox constructed. Volpone, a rich Vene- 


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130 Ben Jonson. 

tian, feigns sickness, and at last death ; and he and his parasite 
Mosca play with the hopes of those who, building on being re- 

• membered in his will, visit him in his supposed last hours with 
costly presents. The Hc&redipetce are Voltore, Corvino, Cor- 
baccio, the Vulture, the Crow, and the Raven ; and though well 
distinguished, have all a close family relationship as birds of 
prey ; and the whole comic gist of the play turns on the mode 
in which they debase themselves in their pursuit of the in- 
heritance, and are beguiled and brought to shame. Celia and 
Bonario inspire us with no interest, and Sir Politick Would-be 
and his wife are mere excrescences, who weary us with their 
laborious 'display of far-fetched absurdities. The termination 
of the "play is peculiar and characteristic. Jonson in many 
respects lived after* the free ideas of his time ; but his plays 
stand apart from those of most of his contemporaries, in the 
absence of that utter licentiousness not only of language but 
of idea, and that wilful disregard of all moral distinctions, 
which so often marks them. Joneon has not the purity of 
Shakespeare, he is often far from cleanly in his mirth ; but his 
plays are generally arranged on the assumption of the exist- 
ence of abiding moral truths, and the propriety of their observ- 
ance. He is severe, if not to himself, at least to others; and 

. in The Fox he feels no compunction in sentencing the witty 
. Mosca, who has amused us so gaily through five acts, to finish 
his 'life in the galleys, and in committing the profuse magnifico 
^ Volpon^ to prison and irons. Indeed, judgment so justly and 
so sternly overtakes all the principal occupants of the scene, 
as to convince us that we have throughout been amused with 
things which are not the legitimate subjects of laughter. And 
Jonson often thus errs, in wringing his comedy^out of the baser 
vices and out of degraded natures. This latter defect casts its 
stain over all the inexhaustible wit, exquisite comic humour, 
and laughable caricature of The Alchymist; one's gorge rises 
at being confined for five acts without rehef to the society of 
such utter scoundrels, knaves, and fools as are here brought 
together. If all Henry the Fourth were made out of Dame 
Quickly, Doll Tearsheet, Poins, Bardolph, and Pistol, even 
with Sir John and the Prince to bear them through, we should 
tire of their society. But that is nothing to what we have here: 
there a certain airiness gives grace to the real wickedness, — it 
is not ^ce we see, but only the humorous side of vice : but in 
Jonson, the depravity itself is insisted upon ; the coarse body 
of the thing is painted ; its real native deformity not only un- 
disguised, but elaborately set out ; and human nature in its 
depths mocked with jests so cruel and heartless, — ^the redeem- 
ing elements of good yet there so remorselessly thrust out of 

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Ben Janson. 131 

sight, — ^that the whole savours somewhat of dancing over a 
graveyard, and a certain savour of corruption and clank o£ 
dead bones mingles in the orgie. 

Subtle, an old cheating alchjmistiand fortune-teller; Face, 
a cunning bold rogue; and Doll Common, whose name indicates 
her profession, — get possession of a house in London deserted 
on account of the plague, and confederate together to cheat all 
they can bring into their toils. Dapper, a lawyer's clerk, comes 
to them for a spirit to secure him luck at play ; Drup;ger, a 
tobacco-man, wants charms to secure him custom; ^r Epiciire 
Mammon, a nobler victim, is deluded inta the conviction that 
he is on the point of grasping the philosopher's stone, and in- 
dulges in gorgeous dreams of luxury and magnificence ; Tribu- 
lation Wholesome wants gold made for the* uses of the fandtical 
brethreiL The way in which these and othera are tricked and 
made fools of by the confederates, and the infinite ingenuity 
with which the detection that seems constantly at hand is 
staved off, make the staple of the play ; which ends in the gene- 
ral confusion and rout of all concerned, and the return of the 
surprised owner to his desecrated housa 

Jonson is himself in his descriptions of alchemy; he seems, 
with his usual industry and love of exact reality, to have 
mastered the whole pretended science, as the first step towards 
destroying it by ridicule. His elaborate display of terms' of. ' 
art ; his vivification, mortification, and eohobation ; his ulti- 
mum suppHcium auri, lapis pkUosophicus, and fac Virginia; 
his lato, azoch, zernich, chibrit. and heautarit, with a thou- 
sand others,— seem more wearisome to us than ^they did to 
hearers of his own time, when the false arts of gold-making 
and star-gazing were as much, or perhaps even more, in vogue 
than table-turning and spirit-rapping now are among ourselves. 
The whole thing is conducted with wonderful spirit, and must 
be still better on the stage than in the closet. The variety of 
comic situation ; the mock-solemnity of Subtle ; Face's imper- 
turbable impudence, witty speech, and inexhaustible readiness 
of device, and the contrasted humours, vain hopes, and de- 
served disappointments of the various dupes, — make up a play 
which one can never sufficiently admire and laugh at, and which 
yet one can never entirely conquer one's repugnance for. It is 
like playing at mud-pies in the kennel on a magnificent scale. 

The Silent WoTtian is far pleasanter; lighter, freer, more 
humane. Its being in prose, instead of Jonson's iisual prosaic 
verse, gives it a great advantage. It is the prototype of such 
comedies as Shs stoops to conquery or The School for Scandal, 
but on a scale far more massive and elaborate than any thing 
the later stage can show; and it probably exceeds in real co iiic 

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132 Ben Jonson* 

vis any English play except those of Shakespeare. The Fox and 
Ahhymisty though the materials, of the latter at least, are purely 
English, have yet something in their cast and conduct which 
makes them read like Terence, a thousand times enriched and 
elaborated. The Silent Woman, on the contrary, though, curi- 
ously enough, founded on a hint from a Greek sophist, and full 
of classical quotations interwoven into the matter of it, is 
thoroughly modern and native. The scene is laid in London. 
Morose is an elderly gentleman with an insane susceptibility to 
noise. He has taken refuge from street outcries in a passage 
without thoroughfare, barricades his door with a feather-bed 
nailed outside, and admits the society of nobody but Cutbeard, a 
silent barber, and servants who answer him only by mute signs. 
He is on the look-out for a dumb wife, with the object of dis- 
inheriting his nephew Sir Eugenie Dauphine ; who, on his side, 
has found a young lady in his interests, whom, with the con- 
federacy of a friend and the silent barber, who is a traitor to 
his master, he proposes to pass off on his uncle. The conversa- 
tion of the young gallants is easy, spirited, and witty, and gives 
us perhaps the best insight we have Into the manners and in- 
tercourse of the young men of fashion of the day. These are 
contrasted with two ridiculous would-be leaders of ton, — Sir 
John Daw, who is a professed poet and man of learning, and 
a& arrant gull, as his name indicates ; and Sir Amorous La- 
Foole, a mass of fashionable affectation and shallowness, proud 
in his descent from the most ancient and widely-distributed 
family of the Fooles. We are introduced, too, to a college of 
fine ladies, — Haughty, Centaure, and Davis, — something like, 
and yet very different from, the Pricievses Ridicules of Moliere. 
Sir John Daw is a professed servant of Dauphine's protegee the 
Silent Lady, and La-Foole has arranged a fine dinner at which 
she is to be introduced to the ladies of the college. Truewit, 
who is not at first in the plot of his friend Dauphine, hearing 
that Morose (ontemplates matrimony, thinks to do his friend a 
clever service ; and in the disguise of a post, gains admittance 
to Morose's house, where, enforcing his admonition with the 
music of a large horn, he thunders into his ears an eloquent 
denunciation of marriage, and leaves the unfortunate old gen- 
tleman nearly dead. " Come, have me to my chamber," says 
he, in a state of melancholy prostration, when his tormentor 
leaves him ; " but first shut the door.'' *' Cutbeard, Cutbeard, 
Cutbeard I here has been a cut-throat with me ^ help me into 
my bed, and give me physic with thy counsel." Truewit 
boasts to Dauphine that ne has effectually frightened his uncle 
out of matrimony, and is overwhelmed by the reproaches of 
his friend for having destroyed his cherished scheme. This is 

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Ben Jonson. 133 

interrupted by Cutbeard, who comes to say that all is for the 
best; for Morose is so enraged at the intrusion, which he sup- 
poses to have been managed by Dauphine, that he is deter- 
mined to marry the Silent Lady that very day, and has sent 
Cutbeard for her and a parson. The Silent Woman^s interview 
v ith Morose is admirable. He admires her beauty and modesty, 
his only diflSculty is that she can scarcely be made to speak at 
all, and when she does, it is so low he has to make her say every 
thing twice over. She refers all things to his superior wisdom; 
and Morose is in an ecstasy of happiness at having found a part- 
ner who exceeds in reticence and taciturnity his fondest hopes, 
and he triumphs in anticipation over the disappointed expecta- 
tions of his nephew. He, on his side, secure in the marriage, 
is determined to invade his uncle with the noisiest possible 
celebration of his nuptials. He and his friends arrange to 
divert La-Foole's grand party into Morose's house ; and a certaiix 
Captain Otter, famous for his alternate servile submission to 
his wife in her presence, and his bold and passionate execration 
of her in her absence, and for his ridiculous humours in drink- 
ing from his three favourite cups, which he calls his bear, his 
bull, and his horse, is to be of the party. To give a further 
zest to the jest, and to accumulate horrors on the head of poor 
Morose, they hire all the musicians they can get, especially 
trumpets and drums. Cutbeard obeys his master's injunctions, 
and supplies him with a parson well suited to his humour; 
*' one that has catched a cold, sir, and can scarce be heard six 
inches off; as if he spoke out of a bulrush that were not picked, 
or his throat were full of pith :" and the next scene opens im- 
mediately after the performance of the ceremony which has 
united Morose and Epicoene. There are few things in the whole 
range of the comic drama equal to this situation, when Morose 
finds, to his inexpressible consternation, that the lady to whom 
he has just been bound by indissoluble ties has a concealed 
tongue and temper of her own ; and when, to add to his misery, 
he is invaded by the whole company of gentlemen, collegians, 
fools, and musicians. Fortunately part of it is decent enough 
to bear quotation. 

** Scene II. 

A room in Morose's House. 

Enter Mobobe, Epiccenb, Parson, and Cutbeard. 

Mor, Sir, there's an aogel for yourself, and a brace of angels for your cold. 
)f use not at this manage of my bounty, It is fit we should thank fortune, 
double to nature, for any benefit she confers upon us ; besides, it is your im- 
perfection, but my solace. 

Par, [tpeaks as having a ccld.'\ I thank your worship ; so it is mine, 

Mot. What says he, Cutbeard ? 

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134 Ben Jomon. 

CtU. He says, wrmsto^ sir, whensoeyer your worship needs liim, he can be 
ready with the like. He got this cold with sitting up late, and singing 
catches with cloth-workers. 

Mor, No more. I thank him. 

Par. God keep your worship, and give you much joy with your fiur 
spouse t— uh, uh, uh I 

Mor. 0, 1 stay, Outbeard ! let him give me five shillings of my money 
hack. As it is bounty to reward benefits, so it is equity to mulct injuries. 
I will have it. What says 1j« ? 

Cler. He cannot change it, sir. 

Mor, It must be changed. 

Cut. Cough again. [Aside U Parton. 

Mor. What says he % 

Cut. He will cough out the rest, sir. 

Par. Uh, uh, uh I 

Mor, Away, away iCith him ! stop his mouth ! away ! I forgive it.* — 

[Exit Cut, thrusUng <nU the Par, 

E]A. Fie, master Morose, that you will use this violence to a man of the 

Mor, Howl 

Epi. It does not become your gravity, or breeding, as you pretend in 
court, to have offered this outrage on a ivaterman, or any more boisterous 
creature, much less on a man of ms civil coat. 

Mor, You can speak, then I 

fpi. Yes, sir. 
or, Sp^ out, I mean. 

Epi. Ay, sir. Why, did you think yon had married a statue, or a mo- 
tion only ? one of the French puppets, with the eyes turned with a wire ? or 
some innocent out of the hospital, that would stand ifith her hands thus, 
and a plaise mouth, and look upon you ? 

Mor. immodesty ! a manifest woman ! What, Outbeard ! 

Epi, Nay, never quarrel with Outbeard, sir ; it is too late now. I con- 
fess it doth kite somewhat of the modesty I had, when I writ simply maid : 
but I hope I shall make it a stodc still competent to the estate and dignity 
of your wife. 

Mor. She can talk! 

Epi. Yes, indeed, sir* 

ErUer MuTi. 

Mor. What, sirrah ! None of my knaves there f where is this impostor 
Outbeard t [MiUe makes eiffne. 

£hi. Speak to him, fellow, speak to him ! Ill have none of this co- 
actea unnatural dumbness in my nouse, in a funily where I govern. 

[Exit Mule. 

Mor, She is my regent already! I have married a Penthesilea, a Semi* 
ramis ; sold my liberty to a distaff. 

Enter TauiwiT. 

True. Where 's master Morose ? 

Mor. Is he come again ? Lord have mercy u^on me I 

True. I wish you all joy, mistress Epicoene, with your grave and honour* 
able match. 

Epi. I return you the thanks, master Truewit, so friendly a wish deserves. 

Mor, She has acquaintance too ! 

IVue. God save you, sir, and give you all contentment in your fiiir choice, 
here ! Before, I was the bird of night to you, the owl ; but now I am the 
messenger of peace, a dove, and bring you the glad wishes of many Mends 
to the celebration of this good hour. 

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Ben JoMon. 135 

Mar. What hour, sir ? 

True, Your marriage hour, sir. I commend jour resolution, that, not*» 
withstanding all the dangers I laid afore you, in the voice of a night-cfow, 
would jet go on, and be yourself. It shows you are a man constant to your 
own ends, and upright to your purposes, that would not be put off with left- 
handed cries." 

He tells him the barber has betrayed him, and announces the 
arrival of company to felicitate him : 

"itf<w. Bar my doors! bar my doors! Where are all my eaters! my 
mouths, now ? — 

Enier Servants, 
Bar up my doors, you yarlets ! - 

EpL He is a varlet that stirs to such an office. Let them stand open. 
I would see him that dares move his eyes toward it. Shall I have a barri- 
cade made against my friends, to be barred of any pleasure they can bring in 
to me with their honourable visitation ? [Exeunt ^er. 

Mar, Amazonian impudence !*' 

She forgets his hatred of noise in joining Truewit in over- 
whelming the barber with witty curses ; but soon the crowd of 
visitors breaks in like a sea, and overwhelms him. Epiccene 
receives them with all the graces of a fine lady, welcomes them 
to the feast ; and the scene ends in the ladies disputing for pre- 
cedence with shrill voices, and a grand crash of trumpets and 
drums. The wretched Morose, after an ineffectual resistance, 
betakes himself to flight ; and Dauphine thus describes his city 
of refuge : 

" Daup, 0, hold me up a little, I shall go away in the jest else. He 
has got on his whole nest of night-caps, and locked himself up in the top of 
the house, as high as ever he can climb from the noise. I peeped in at a 
cranny, and saw him sitting over a cross-beam of the roof, luce him on th^ 
Sadler's horse in Fleet-street, upright ; and he will sleep there." 

The action is now filled up for some time by the ridiculous 
humours of the lady collegians and the two foolish knights. 
The former are all betrayed into declarations of love for Dau- 
phine by the skill of Truewit ; and the latter are engaged in 
a preposterous quarrel, in which each separately betrays his 
craven spirit, and voluntarily submits to be beaten by the 
other ; a composition of which the wits take the execution 
into their own hands by blindfolding the victims. Morose 
comes among them again, and is terribly tormented ; his new 
wife affects to think him mad, and his misery culminates when 
he learns that she talks ten times worse in her sleep^ and snores 
like a porpoise. All his hopes turn upon a divorce, and he is 
obliged to have recourse to his nephew and implore his assist- 
ance. He goes, indeed, himself to the lawyers ; but makes no- 
thing of it There is such a noise in the court of wrangling 
lawyers, that he says " the riot at home is a sort of calm mid- 
night to it/' Hence he grasps eagerly at a suggestion of True- 

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136 Ben Jonson. 

wit's, who engages to provide him with two learned doctors, who 
shall discuss the matter quietly in a chamber for him, and 
satisfy him what hopes he may entertain of getting rid of his 
incubus of a talking wife. The confederates dress-up Otter as 
a divine, and Cutbeard as a canon-lawyer ; and the two argue 
the whole question of the grounds of divorce with unparalleled 
humour and an utter disregard of decency ; they cavil and dispute 
over every one of their twelve impedimenta^ with a profusion of 
Latin terms of wit, and with warming temper and rising voices. 
Each hoped-for impediment is in turn disposed of as inapplic- 
able to the case in hand. Daw and La-Foole, who plume them- 
selves on a reputation for irresistibility with women, are se- 
duced by the wits to boast of the favours of Epicoene ; but even 
this brings no relief to Morose. His nephew at last asks him 
what he shall deserve, if he shall free him absolutely and for 
ever from his unhappy condition ; and Morose, though incre- 
dulous of his ability, eagerly agrees to give him an allowance 
for life, and leaye him all his property ; and in spite of the 
eager protestations and lamentations of Epicoene, he signs deeds 
to this effect : and then comes the sudden catastrophe : 

*^Mor. Come, nephew, give me the pen ; I will subscribe to any thing, and 
seal to what thou wilt, for my deliverance. Thou art my restorer. Here, 
I deliver it thee as my deed. If there be a word in it lacking, or writ with 
false orthography, I protest before [heaven] I will not take the advantage. 

[Returns the writings* 

Daup, Then here is your release, sir. [Takes off Epiccene'a peruke and other 
disguises."] You have married a boy, a gentleman's son, that I have brought 
^p this half year at my great charges, and for this composition, which I have 
now made with you. — What say you, master doctor t This iajustum impe^ 
dimentum, I hope, error persona t 

Ott, Tes, sir, in primo gradu. 

Cut. In primo gradu,*^ 

And with this discovery, which comes in its startling sudden- 
ness, not only on the spectators, but on all the actors, even the 
confederates of Dauphine, the play briefly winds up. It is 
perhaps the best unravelling of a plot that has ever been in- 
vented ; it is like the pulling of a single thread which loosens 
and betrays all the structure of a complex web. And the play 
is worthy of the plot ; it is one of the few of Jonson's in which 
we seem to be associating with real living people ; and Dryden 
said truly of it, that " there is more wit and acuteness of fancy 
in it than in any of Ben Jonson's." It does not carry much of 
praise to modern ears, to say that the time occupied by the 
events of the play is not longer than that in which they are 
played, that the continuity of scenes is almost unbroken, and 
the change of scene restricted to the narrowest limits ; but it 
is real praise to say that, whatever may be the advantages of 

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Ben Jonson. 137 

such an arrangement, it is here obtained without the least sacri- 
fice of ease or richness. 

We have no space to discuss the less famous comedies of 
our author, though many of them would afford ground for spe- 
cial criticism. They have all one distinction common to them, 
which Jonson himself admits, and which has been patent to all 
his readers. They deal not with men so much as with what 
he calls " humours" of men. Every character is selected for 
some special humour, and his situations and actions are all 
arranged so as to show this humour off. In the Poetaster, he 
makes his opponent describe himself (Jonson) as "a mere 
sponge ; nothing but humours and observation : he goes up 
and down sucking from every society, and when he comes 
home squeezes himself dry again ;'* and the description is in 
the main a true one. Aubrqy says he gathered humours of 
men daily wherever he went. In his earlier plays, such as 
The Case is altered and Every Man in his Humour , this descrip- 
tion of personal eccentricities is united to a body of personal 
character. Kitely is a man, and so is Bobadil, however carica- 
tured ; but in his later comedies, such as The Magnetic Lady 
and A Tale of a Tub, his characters degenerate into mere bun- 
dles of oddities, and introduce us to a world ridiculous enough, 
but neither real nor natural. 

There is little of geniality in Jonson's writings. He is by 
nature a satirist, and was possessed by a settled conviction that 
the display and satire of existing manners was the most legiti- 
mate function of comedy ; and the mass of all his amusement 
is extracted either from the caricature of some individual mon- 
strosity, or from the affected and ridiculous habits of some par- 
ticular class. He adopts Cicero's definition, " who would have 
a comedy to be imitatio vitts, speculum consuetudinis, imago veri- 
tatis" The court especially is a favourite subject with him ; 
and absurd and overcharged as some of his descriptions seem, 
we must be cautious in discrediting them. Jonson, though a 
caricaturist, was a keen and accurate observer ; he had little 
tendency or power to invent, knd a basis of matter-of-fact no 
doubt underlies all his fictions. He is one of the best and 
oompletest authorities we have for ascertaining the manners of 
the court and city in the time of James I. 

His strength lies in his wit. Generally it has a special 
character of its own : it is ponderous built-up mirth, heavy 
unsparing caricature. He lays on coat after coat of the same 
paint without relief or variety; yet he covers a wider field of 
wit than most men, and it would be difficult to say in which 
department he has proved himself most successful. The Fox is 
most witty. The Silent Woman most humorous. The Alchymist 

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138 Ben Jonson. 

most grotesque. Perhaps his genius leans most in the latter 
direction. This is a field of laughter not much occupied in the 
present day ; perhaps it belongs to a coarser and simpler state 
of mind than now prevails. Such caricatures as those of Leo- 
nardo da Vinci show it in its rudest forms. It prevailed in 
the time of George III. : Smollett and Gilray are grotesque, 
Sterne is often so. It is the element of the ridiculous that lies 
either in the native disproportion or in the voluntary distor- 
tion of real things. The figure of Punch is the type of the 
grotesque. It deals much with the disease and wretchedness and 
basenesses of human nature, and is generally more or less in* 
human. It is rare in' Shakespeare : perhaps the Apothecary in 
Romeo and Jviiety and Falstaff's ragged regiment, are the only 
instances of it In Jonson, on the other hand, it is common ; 
but rather in its moral than physical manifestations. Bartho- 
lomew Fair is made up of it, in the most degraded fonns ; The 
Alchymist, The Staple of News, The New Inn, contain abundant 
specimens of it His worst works are full of instances of his 
unbounded power of imagining ludicrous sftuations. 

Jonson wrote two tragedies, Sejanus and Catiline. The 
former is incomparably the better. His aim was not to repre- 
sent man under the influence of deep and moving passion, but 
to find occasion for pompous periods and stately diction. It 
was his ambition to ^'do it after the high Roman fashion.'* 
He laments that it is not possible in modern times '' to ob- 
serve the old state and splendour of dramatic poems -,' but he 
adds, " In the mean time, if in truth of argument, dignity o{ 
persons, gravity and height of elocution, fullness and frequency 
of sentence, I have discharged the other offices of a tragic poet, 
let not the absence of these forms be imputed to me." And if, 
indeed, these be the only other offices of the tragic poet, Jonson 
has succeeded in tragedy; and in some respects, he has gone be* 
yond these requisitions, especially in the character of Tiberius, 
which displays great insight, and is remarkable for its power 
and originality. The picture is in great measure probably 
true to the original ; and tne i^tage has no figure like it, of 
deep and crafty dissimulation and unbounded self-indulgence 
pressing into their service an astute intellect and large mental 
capacity. Catiline is history distorted into poetry; and both 
history and poetry suffer from the forced transformation. We 
would rather read the In CaiiUinam in the original than trans- 
lated into blank verse, and made a speech in a tragedy. To 
say nothing of other objections, it stops the way. The descrip 
tion of the battle, with which the play concludes, is a fine 
specimen of ** height of elocution" and " fullness of sentence*' 
Compare it with a similar description in Macbeth. It was well 

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. Ben Jonson. 139 

said by Oldys of these classical tragedies, that the author "had 
pulled down all antiquity on his head." 

Mr. Bell, the editor of the neat little edition of Jonson's 
poetical works lately published, tells us that " it is in his minor 
poems we must look for him as he lived, felt, and thought;" 
and that from his plays alone " we should arrive at very imper- 
fect and erroneous conclusions upon his personal and poetical 
character." This is one of those things that it suits a present 
purpose so well to say, that a man does not care to inquire too 
closely whether it be correct or not. No doubt the minor poems 
of Jonson add something to our knowledge of him; but the in- 
sight derived from them into either his genius or his character 
is insignificant compared to that afforded by his greater works. 
Even the lighter and more graceful side of his poetical faculty 
is to be found exercised in greater perfection in the " Sad Shep- 
herd,*' — though that piece has been preposterously over-esti- 
mated, — and in the songd scattered through his plays and 
masques, than in the " Forest" and " Underwoods."* 

The minor poems rank higher in common estimation than 
they deserve. People are familiar with a few admirable speci* 
inens, and are apt to think there must be many more like them; 
whereas the fact is, that our popular anthologies contain all 
Jonson's best songs, which are separated by a wide interval 
from his worse one& The origin of many of the most popular 
among them has been traced back by the commentators to 
classical originals, and it is probable that many others are in- 
debted to sources not discovered ; for Jonson was not only a 
good scholar, but, if we may trust Gifford, a most excursive 
reader of all that had been written in the languages of Greece 
and Roma " Drink to me only with thine eyes T is from the 
love-letters of Philostratus, the different ideas being scattered 
through several letters of the original, but each idea having its 
exact antecedent, as may be seen in Gifford's edition, where 
the passages are quoted ; and though the combination of such 
scattered thoughts may show, as the present editor urges, and 
as is undoubtedly true, a high degree of artistic ingenuity, it 
is a much more cold-blooded plagiarism than even the trans- 
ference of a whole poem. " Still to be neat, still to be drest," 
is taken from a little Latin poem of Jean Bonnefons; though, 
oddly enough, the point of the original, ^'Fingerese semper non 

* It is a serious defect, that in a work professing to contain the poetical works 
of Ben Jonson these songs should not have been collected. The consequence is, 
that the reader will tarn the pages of this yolume in vain for one or two of Jon- 
Boa^s rery best minor productions. No cheapness can oompoosate for want of 
completeness. Another marked blot is the absence of any index or detailed table 
of contents. On the other hand, the life prefixed is well written, and the notes 
brief and pertinent. 

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140 Ben Jonson. 

est confidere amori" and to which Jonson's song too seems to 
lead, is omitted in his version. " Come,* my Oelia, let us prove/' 
and " Kiss me, sweet, the wary lover," are from Catullus. Jon- 
son borrows every where largely from the ancients, not with 
the idea of surreptitiously availing himself of their ideas, but 
in conformity with the opinion in his day, that to adapt them 
well was at least as happy an effort of genius as to invent for 
oneself He boldly avows, and defends, his practice : 

" And for his trae use of translating men, 
It still hath been a work of as much palm 
In clearest judgments as to invent or make." 

No man was ever less of a copyist He is master of what he 
uses. In some cases, indeed, he puts in a borrowed plume in 
the most odd and extravagantly inappropriate place, as when 
he makes one of his shepherds refer to " the lovers' scriptures, 
Heliodores or Statii, Longi, Eustathii, Prodromi ;" and in others 
overwhelms all dramatic propriety from the desire to insert a 
good translation: as where in Catiline he introduces Cicero 
speaking something like the whole of the In Catilinam; in the 
Silent Woman makes Truewit lecture on love out of Ovid by 
the pageful; or concludes an act of the Poetaster with a literal 
translation of one of Horace's satires. In general, however, 
he shows a remarkable dexterity in transferring his borrowed 
material into the substance of his work; and it is only the re- 
triever-like sagacity of some industrious commentator which 
informs the reader that a cast serving-man is talking Statins, 
or a Venetian magnifico quoting Libanius. Jonson, however, 
borrows not only from the ancients, but frequently from him- 
self; repeating ideas, and even whole lines, of his own, and thus 
furnishing the strongest proof that the absence of what he calls 
*' copia" in his own resources is what often throws him on those 
of others. His songs, however, are very far from being mere 
borrowings from the antique. The originals have often little 
to recommend them : he supplements the idea ; his strong ar- 
tistic taste comes into play, and he gives to his little poem a 
completeness and justness of form, and a finish which make it 
truly his own. Nor can it ever be denied that Jonson had a 
vein of sweet and fanciful imagination, which, though it was 
narrow, contained a large proportion of pure metal It is pro- 
bable he himself underrated this side of his genius, and cramped 
its exercise; but every now and then he has given it expression 
in forms of crystalline clearness and perfect symmetry. Such a 
one is the " Hymn to Diana." We quote this and others, not be- 
cause they will be new to any one, but because criticism on poetry 
is dull and inappreciable unless the poems be not only known to 
have been written, but are fresh in thememory of the reader: 

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Ben Jonson. 141 

^' Queen and huntress, chaste and &ir, 
Kow the sun is laid to sleep, 
Seated in thy silver chair, 
State in wonted manner keep. 
Hesperus ^itreats thy light, 
Qoddess, excellently bright. 

Earth, let not thy envious shade 

Dare itself to interpose ; 
Cjnthia's shining orb was made 
Heaven to clear, when day did close. 
Bless us, then, with wishM sight. 
Goddess, excellently bright. 

Lay thy bow of pearl apart. 

And thy crystSd shining quiver ; 
Give unto the flying hart 
Space to breathe, how short soever, — 
Thou that mak'st a day of night, 
Goddess, excellently bright." 

There is a calm serenity in the whole movement of this piece 
like that of the moon through the floating clouds, and in ex- 
quisite harmony with the subject-matter. The following, too, 
is very perfect in a very different style, and more light, easy, 
and playful than we often find in the writings of Jonson, who 
is apt to lean somewhat too heavily in his most trifling pro- 
ductions : 

** If I freely may discover 

What would please me in my lover-* 

I would have her hXt and witty. 

Savouring more of court than city ; 

A little proud, but full of pity ; 

Light and humorous in her toying. 

Soon building hopes, and soon destroying ; 

Long, but sweet, in the enjoying ; 

Neither too easy nor too hard : 

All extremes I would have barr'd* 

She should be allowed her passions. 
So they were but used as fashions. 
Sometimes froward, and then frowning ; , 
Sometimes sickish, and then swowning ; 
Every fit with change still crowning. 
Purely jealous I would have her. 
Then only constant when I crave her ; 
^is a virtue should not save her. 
Thus nor her delicates could cloy me^ 
Nor her peevishness annoy me." 

This too has been traced to an epigram of Martial. Of the 
following song Mr. Grifford says, that '4f it be not the most 
beautiful song in the language, I freely confess, for my own 
part, that I know not where' it is to be found"* 

* By some slip, Mr, Bell has assigned this dictum of GifFord's to another song. 
As the two come together, it is probably merely an error of the press in the reference. 

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142 Ben JoMOfu 


do not wanton with those ejea, 

Lest I be sick with seeing; 
Kor cast them down, but let them liBe, 

Lest shame destroy their being. 

be not angry with those fires, 

For then their threats will kill me; 
Kor look too kind on my desires, 

For then my hopes will spill me. 

do not steep them in thy tears. 

For so will sorrow slay me ; 
Kor spread them as distract with fears; 

Mine own enough betray me. '* 

Gifford was a most able and industrious commentator, but 
his opinion on poetry is not valuable ; and for Jonson he has a 
blind partiality, partly the result of a good deal of similarity in 
their natures, and still more from his forming an excellent field 
on which to do battle with other critics, and furnishing a good 
opportunity for Tenting the acrimony of his disposition on those 
who had previously abused, and, it is fair to add, traduced his 
author. To us, it seems that the above song is a favourable 
specimen of Jonson when thrown entirely on his own resources, 
and that, like the rest of his love-songs, it is artificial and tho- 
roughly heartless. Nowhere has Jonson depicted the passion 
of love with nature or delicacy. It is scarcely too much to 
say, that he has never depicted it at all, and was himself in- 
capable of feeling it. The attitude of the ancients towards 
women found something in his nature which answered to it 
very exactly. In his life, he seems freely to have indulged 
his appetites, without the sanction of any deep or permanent 
attachments. He has not in any of his plays drawn a female 
character with the slightest power to inspire us with interest. 
He uses them in general only as a sort of block on which to 
hang to advantage ridiculous fashions and contemptible ca- 
prices. There is one love-scene in his works — Ovid parting 
from Julia. It is on the same model as the chamber scene in 
Romeo and Juliet, and forms a singular contrast with it. In 
both cases the lover, condemned to exile, takes his last farewelL 
In one case, pure passion breathes itself in accents so simple, 
that the reader cannot stay to admire, but is borne along until 
the completed scene leaves its whole tender impression on the 
mind. In the other, the speakers themselves run into disquisi- 
tions on love and mortal life ; and though we cannot help think- 
ing Jonson has in this place warmed his genius at the fire of 
his great contemporary, and struck out some fine flashes of the 
poetical expression of highly wrought feelings^ yet in the main. 

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Ben Jonson. 143 

the speeches are adapted rather to show the ingenuity of the 
author than the passion of the lovers. In The New Inn, the 
lover rouses his mistress from cold good-will into a sudden and 
iirestrainable enthusiasm of devotion to him by a brace of ser- 
mons on courage and on love ; which,iiowever ill-adapted they 
may seem to secure this happy result, are fine laboured pieces 
of rhetoric, with thought and originality mingled somewhat 
largely with dullness. Indeed, Jonson, though utterly incapable 
of giving a dramatic representation to the most universal pas- 
sion both of the real and the mimic stage, and ill-constituted 
in his own nature to experience its higher influences, could 
form a noble intellectual image of it, and express it in adequate 
language. Perhaps the finest and most imaginative piece of 
poetry he has written is the " Epode to deep Ears," as he calls it, 
in which he contrasts false and true love. We quote the intro- 
duction, as well as the finer lines to which we allude, because the 
former will serve as an example of the cumbrous mechanically 
translated prose of which the greater part of Jonson's so-called 
poetry consists. 


Not to know vice at all, and keep true state, 

Is virtue and not fate : 
Next to that virtue, is to know vice well, 

And her black spite expel. 
Which to effecl (since no breast is so sure, 

Or safe, but she '11 procure 
Some way of entrance), we must plant a guard 

Of thoughts to watch and viwrd 
At th' eye and ear, the ports unto the mind, 

That no strange or unkind 
Object arrive there, but the hearty our spy. 

Give knowledge instantly 
To wakeful reason, our affections' king : 

Who, in th' examining. 
Will quickly taste the treason, and conunit 

Olose, the close cause of it. 
'Tis the securest policy we have, 

To make our sense our slave. 
But this true course is not embraced by many : 

By many! scarce by any. 
For either our affections do rebel, 

Or else the sentinel. 
That should ring 'larum to the heart, doth sleep ; 

Or some great thought doth keep 
Back the inteUigeuce, and falsely swears 

They 're base and idle fears 
Whereof the loyal conscience so complains. 

Thus, by these subtle trains. 
Do several passions invade the mind. 

And strike our reason blind : 
Of which usurping rank, some have thought love 

The first; as prone to move 

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144 Ben Jonson. 

Most frequent tumults, horrors, and unrests. 

In our inflamM breasts : 
But this doth from the cloud of error grow. 

Which thus we over-blow. 
The thing they here call love is blind desire, 

Armed with bow, shafts, and fire; 
Inconstant, like the sea, of whence 'tis bom. 

Rough, swelling, like a storm ; 
With whom who sails rides on the surge of fear, 

And boils as if he were 
In a continual tempest Now true love 

No such effects doth prove ; 
That is an essence far more gentle, fine, 

Pure, perfect, nay divine ; 
It is a golden chain let down from heaven. 

Whose links are bright and even. 
That falls like sleep on lovers, and combines 

The soft and sweetest minds 
In equal knots : this bears no brands, nor darts. 

To murder different hearts ; 
But in a calm and god-like unity 

Preserves community. 
0, who is he that in this peace enjoys 

Th' elixir of all joys? 
A form more fresh than are the Eden bowers, 

And lasting as her fiowers; 
Richer than Time, and as Time's virtue rare; 

Sober as saddest care ; 
A fixM thought, an eye untaught to glance. 

Who, blest with such high chance. 
Would, at suggestion of a steep desire, 

Oast himself from the spire 
Of aU his happiness !" 

This must not be taken as an average specimen of the 
minor poems of Jonson. For the most part they are inex- 
pressibly tedious reading. There is enough thought, harshly 
expressed, to require an effort to understand them ; and not 
enough to reward the effort when read. They are weighed 
down by a sort of inert mass of mind which the imagination 
has not sufficient power to kindle. It might have sufficed a 
lesser body of intellect, but it is out of proportion to what it 
has to move. Struggling gleams of fire shine through a well- 
heaped mass of materials ; but rarely does the whole burst into 
a clear blaze. Now and then, indeed, some exquisite poetical 
idea may be found, half hidden by the cumbrousness of its ex- 
pression, as when he compares the serenity of his mistress's 
face to the calmness and life-renewing influence which per- 
vade the air after tempest; an idea not easily suggested by 
the lines, 

" As alone there triumphs to the life 
All the good, all the gain, of the elements' strife. " 

There is gold, and pure gold, in his writings; but mixed 

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Ben Jonaon, 145 

irith large lumps of clay. The worst of it is, the clay is as 
solemnly and carefully hammered out as the gold ; and the 
author evidently refuses to acknowledge even to himself that 
it is of any inferior value. Labour Jonson never spared ; he 
gave all his works the finish his best pains could afford, but he 
used material in itself incapable of taking a polish. He had a 
keen incisive wit ; but it is an Andrea Ferrara rather than a 
rapier. A sort of native unwieldiness is apt to leave its im- 
pression in what he writes ; and his rhythm is like his matter, 
it has a lumbering elephantine motion, full of stops and sudden 
charges. His epigrams are often sharp-pointed, and witty; but, 
like all epigrams, they are dull reading. They are moulded in 
the Latin type; and though some of them have point, many of 
them are only brief occasional poems on a single subject, mostly 
eulogistic of some particular person. Some of the satirical ones 
are also probably personal; but in general aimed at some vicious 
practice or moral deformity, set forth under an appropriate 
title, in which, as in the body of the poem, he loves to show 
his wit We have epigrams to " Sir Annual Tilter," to " Don 
Surly," to " Sir Voluptuous Beast/' to " Fine Grand,'' to " Cap- 
tain Hungry," &a That on Cheveril the lawyer may serve as 
a specimen of the best of them : 

** No cause, nor client fat, will Cheveril leese : 
But as they come, on both sides he takes fees^ 
And oleaseth both ; for while he melts his grease 
For tnis, that wins for whom he holds his peace." 

The " Forest" and " Underwoods," — names by which Jonson 
designated two collections of his minor poems, — consist, with 
some love-songs, chiefly of eulogistic epistles and addresses to 
his friends and patrona It is usual to speak of these poems as 
abounding in profound thought and wise insight into human 
life. They certainly look as if they did. They have a grave 
sententious air which their matter really hardly warrants. 
There are good things in them, and even striking things ; but 
sach are rare. They are ingenious and laboured, while the body 
of thought in them is sufficiently commonplace. The same thing 
may be observed in his ''Discoveries," a collection of his ideas 
on various disconnected subjects expressed in prose. Thoughts 
which occurred to him he wrapped up in large bundles of lan- 
gaage, and put by here for posterity. For the most part, they 
are by no means " discoveries." They are not such things as 
Bacon wrote in his essavs, or Selden said at his table. They 
contain none of the subtle penetrating judgments of an original 
genius. They are weighty and often acute dicta; but always 
within certain limits of knowledge already established. Jonson 
can select true judgments to give his authority and sanction 


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146 Ben Jonson. 

to, but he has none of that quality which loves to unfold the 
inner heart of true notions, or of that which loves to lay naked 
and confute those which are false. 

The free use of satire always requires something of vulgarity 
in the mind, and recklessness in the temper, of him who employs 
it You cannot strike hard, and also strike with discrimina- 
tion ; and the deeper a man's insight, the more certainly does 
his knowledge of the complex intertangling of good and evil 
restrain his hand from sweeping blows of censure. But there 
is a certain sharpness, vigour, and healthy indignation, which 
ennoble to some extent just satire. Jonson has these qualities 
in great perfection ; but he is apt to descend into vituperation, 
and to rail with a disregard of all limits either in his appli* 
cations or his expressions Read his description of his own 
times : 

^ No part or corner man can look upon, 
But there are objects bid him to be gone 
Ab far as he can fly, or follow day, 
Rather than here so bogged in vices stay. 
The whole world here leavened with madness swells ; 
And, being a thing blown out of naught, rebels 
Against his Maker, high alone with weeds 
And impious rankness of all sects and seeds : 
Not to qe checked or frightened now with fate. 
But more licentious macte and desperate 1 
Our delicacies are gro?m capital, 
And even our sports are dangers I what we call 
Friendship, is now masked hatred t justice fled, 
And 8hame£ftoedne8s together I all laws dead 
That kept men living! pleasures only sought ! 
Honour and honesty, as poor things thought 
As they are made I pride and stiff clownage mixed 
To make up greatness ! and man*8 whole good fixed 
In bravery, or gluttony, or coin, 
All which be makes the servants of the groin, — 
Thither it flows !" 

Further we cannot quote ; what follows is worse than the worst 
parts of JuvenaL 

Jonson and some of his friends thought his translations his 
best things. For vigorous closeness, and a lai^e command of 
the resources of his own -language in conveying the meaning 
of another, they have scarcely any parallels. Gifford, who was 
trained in a different school, does them great injustice. 

But we have no further space in which to discuss them, and 
must here conclude our notice. Jonson in his lifetime made 
warm friends and bitter enemies ; and the same fate has attended 
his reputation. He has been extravagantly lauded, and unjustly 
undervalued and maligned. Our object has been to set down 
as accurately as possible the estimate of an unbiased judgment 

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The Czar Nicholas. 147 

He was a great though not an engaging man ; and history will 
always write his name high in the roll of literary achievement. 
No man ever owed less to others. It was part of his deficiency, 
as well as part of his greatness, to be formed for standing alone : 

** Thy star was judgment only and right sense, 
Thyself being to thyself an influence." 


The Accession of Nicholas I. Compiled, by special command of the 
Emperor Alexander II., by his Impeiial Majesty's Secretary of 
State, Baron M. Korff, and translated from the ori^nal Russian. 
Third Impi'ession (now first published). London : John Murray, 

!ne Russian JSmpire, its PeopUy InstitutionSy and Resources. By 
Baron Von Haxthausen, author of " Transcaucasia," " The Tribes 
of the Caucasus," <fec. Translated by Robert Farie, Esq. 2 vols. 
London : Chapman and Hall, 1856. 

The Nations of Russia and Turkey y and their Destiny, By Ivan 
Golovm, author of " The Caucasus." Two parts. London : Tinib- 
ner and Co., 1854. 

La Russie et les Russes. Far N. Tourgueneff. 3 tomes. Bruxelles, 

Secret History of the Court and Government of Russia under the 
Emperors Alexander and Nicholas, By J. H. Schnitzler. 2 
vols. London : Richard Bentley, 1847. 

Russia under the Autocrat Nicholas the First. Bj Ivan Golovine, 
a Russian Subject 2 vols. London : Henry Colbum, 1846. 

Revelations of Russia in 1846. By an English Resident Third 
Edition. 2 vols. London : Colbum, 1846. 

La Russie en 1839. Par le Marquis de Custine. 4 tomes. Paris, 

Russia. Abridged from the French of {he Marquis de Custina Lon- 
don : Longmans, 1854. 

" If you think well of us, you will say so : but ii will be useless, 
you will not be believed; we are ill understood, and people will 
not understand us better.^' These words, addressed by the Em- 
press of Russia to the Marqi^ de Custine in the year 1839, 
convey a protest against the judgment of Western Europe which 
might well deter any lover of truth from exposing himself to a 

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148 The Czar Nicholas. 

similar reproacTi, by drawing the concliisioiis which seeming facts 
would appear to warrant respecting the Czar and his people. 
Perhaps^ after all^ the fault lies more in the national character- 
istics of Russia herself than in the travellers who have successively 
attempted to delineate them. It is not easy for the most impar- 
tially disposed critic to arrive at satisfactory conclusions concern- 
ing men and manners in a society which he is taught by expe- 
rience to regard as a vast masquerade^ where the only clue to 
identification is the negative certainty that no one will appear 
in his real character. iSie spell which thus hangs over the scene, 
and defies inquisitive speciJation, might well have been drawn 
from the famous repertory of the wizard Michael Scott : 

" It had much of glamour might, 
Gould make a Is^je seem a knight ; 
The cohwebs on a dungeon wall 
Seem tapestry in lordly hall ; 
A nutshell seem a gilded barge ; 
A sheeling seem a palace large ; 
And youth seem a^, and age seem youth : 
All was delusion, nought was truth." 

You leave your western home with honest intentions of ascertain- 
ing the actual good and evil of this great empire, which exercises 
so increasing an influence on the destinies of Europe. You ap- 
proach the object of your curiosity by the common highway of 
nations ; and the imposing monotony of the world of waters 
leaves your senses open to the impressions of immediate contrast 
between country and country. You pass through the ordeal of 
the island fortress which has lately proved itself the trustworthy 
seutinel over the safety of Peter the Great's '' European window/' 
and you find yourself before a statdy city, with magnificent 
quays and wide-spreading streets, lined by palaces glittering 
with paint and gilding. Having once escaped from the talons of 
the custom-house officials, whom it would be a libel to r^ard 
any where as the representatives of the national character, yon 
meet with nothing but obliging and even officious hospitality. 
Every one whom you encounter seems to inscribe himself at once 
as cicerone and host to the stranger ; and his attentions are marked 
by a delicacy and tact which, while pleading for a favourable 
verdict for his country, appear proudly conscious that this is its 
natural due. The politeness and generosity of the East seem to 
be blended with the intelligence and civUisation of the West, 
and the Russian to act as the gifted interpreter of the best vir- 
tues of each into the language of the other. As you walk down 
the street, your attention is dra^oi to an unostentatious carriage, 
the occupant of which does not require the profound deference 
of your companion and the other passers-by to distinguish him in 

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The Czar Nicholas. 149 

your eyes as the autocrat from whose will every thing around 
you is said to derive its impulse. You become conscious that 
you yourself are the subject of observation and scrutiny ; and 
probably^ unaccustomed to the fixed gaze of princes and poten- 
tates, feel not a little embarrassed under the dissection which 
your character and disposition are so quietly undergoing. As 
your own look is sinking cowed before the particular attention 
with which you are being honoured, you feel not a little relieved 
at discovering that the expression of the imperial countenance, 
at first rigidly severe, has passed without any intermediate stage 
into one of gentle and graceful politeness. Fully prepared to 
recognise the appreciation of your own merits as only matter 
of time, you are ready to set down to the eagle-eyed penetration 
of a master mind this rapidly altered bearing towards you; and 
the very iciness of the first glance is a guarantee to you of the 
trustworthiness of the ultimate judgment. You have no sus- 
picion that so great a prince can be really guilty of the idle 
vanity of outstaring a bewildered foreigner, and that had your 
own demeanour been more composed under the imperial eye^ 
you would have inflicted on the Czar of Muscovy a pang of 
angry disappointment. This, with other fajcts, comes gradually 
to your knowledge; and so much is the first favourable im- 
pression altered by subsequent observation, that you run the 
risk of falling into the opposite extreme, and solving every am- 
biguous characteristic in the sense of unmixed evil. You dis- 
cover that real friendship is as remote as possible from the 
pleasing civility of ordinary B'Ussian intercourse; that it is com- 
monly only a hasty demonstration of good- will, put forth with- 
out the slightest reference to actual feeling, merely to antici- 
pate and prevent the closer approach and introspection of a 
more gradual intimacy. It is the nervous movement of suspi- 
cion, which apes the simplicity of open-heartedness. You learn 
other things in times even less pleasing. Your urbane and con- 
Tersational elbow-companion at the restaurateur^ s has led the 
confidential chat to the subject of Russian political institutions, 
and has supplied you with an easy opening to the expression of 
your own conviction of the superiority of Western freedom. You 
may be so unguarded as to follow up the hint, feeling safe in the 
Bolitude of that comer of the room and in the reciprocal frank- 
ness of your auditor; or it may be that through a constitutional 
reserve, or the self-restraint dictated by worldly experience, you 
may waive the discussion, and confine yourself to the unobjec- 
tionable remark, that your object is to gather information, and 
that you leave to Russians themselves, as the best judges, the 
task of appreciating the value of their own usages. In the latter 
case, you may be startled a few days afterwards, in talking with a 

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150 . The Czar Nicholas. 

superior official^ whose acquaintance you have casually acquired^ 
and whom you know to be connected with the Imperial Police, 
to be congratulated as a prudent man, and to learn that your 
tavem conversation has duly passed firom bureau to bureau, 
through all the stages of official docketing, and has perhaps 
gratified the curiosity even of the imperial personage himself 
on whose sudden prepossession in your favour you had been 
pluming yourself. Should indiscretion have been your failing, 
you may find a monitor besides that in your own breast in the 
persevering attendance of some gentleman of morbid politeness 
and strange discontinuity of occupation, until you are fairly 
watched and bowed out of the dominions of the Czar. You 
are then made painfmlly aware that in Russia the old Saxon 
system of neighbourly and "tithing'' responsibility, man for 
man, to the State, has been developed in a peculiar manner; 
that the members of the same family are virtually government 
spies on each other's movements and words ; and that the best 
way of satisfying the police of your own innocence is to act as 
the secret denouncer .of the guilt of your bosom friend. Such 
a state of things may appear at first sight entirely destructive 
of all social enjoyment ; but being applicable to all, it receives 
its natural modification in the common interest, and its evil ef- 
fect, beyond the limits which it imposes on the objects of life 
and the subjects of discourse, is chiefly experienced by those who 
are bunglers at the orthodox lying and mystification which are 
its accompaniments. Skilful conspirators have a language of 
their own, to which no police-office has yet succeeded in dis- 
covering a perpetual glossary. The ordinary effect, however, of 
this social system is, that the Czar is tacitly understood to be 
present at, and a party to, the minutest details of the private 
life of all his subjects. It is, in short, an attempt to engraft the 
patriarchal idea, which lies at the root of Sclavonic nationality, 
upon the borrowed civilisation of Western Europe. Russian life 
thus divides itself into two outwardly antagonistic, but intrinsi- 
cally similar, phases — ^the life of the Sclavonic peasant in his 
cherished organisation of " communes," and that of the noble of 
the capital, with his European tastes and aspirations paralysed by 
his national and traditional characteristics. At the head of each 
system stands the patriarchal authority of the Czar — ^the natural 
complement of the one, and the imeasily accepted necessity of 
the other. Is it wonderful that, vdth this double aspect of 
Russia, and this conflict of ideas in the minds of intelligent Rus- 
sians themselves, there should be some lack of appreciation and 
understanding in Western Europe of the national character, and 
of the extraordinary man who for so long a time was identified 
by Western politicians with the distinctive genius of Russia? 

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The Czar Nicholas. 151 

Of the Czar Nicholas it would have seemed almost hypocrisy 
in an English writer^ a year or two ago^ to affect to speak with 
impartiality. The polemic clamour of manifestoes and parlia- 
mentary harangues^ the eloquent mutual incrimination of princes 
and statesmen^ and the popular and patriotic enthusiasm of the 
respective countries^ had not then subsided into the calmness 
essential to any just discrimination of conduct and motives. 
Crops of Crimean heroes still sprouted forth with undiminished 
vigour at agricultural gatherings ; and metropoUtan lion>shows 
kept alive the remembrance of national animosities^ though the 
belligerent cabinets had smoothed their brows again into the 
habitual courtesies of diplomatic intercourse. To affect to say 
any good of the Czar might then be not unreasonably looked upon 
as a symptom of lukewarm loyalty to our national cause; and to 
speak ill of him^ was merely to foUow in the wake of the count- 
less scribes whom the din of actual war had suddenly aroused to • 
a perception of his sins. Now^ however^ a new crisis of more 
absorbing interest has arisen to divert the overflow of our feel- 
ings firom this channel; and the Russian war seems already to 
have passed into the domain of history as much as the prince 
himself by whose genius it was provoked and supported. With 
animosities softened and subdued by the deeper shadows of our 
Indian disasters, and with the advantage of a complete retrospect 
of the policy of the late Czar defined in its limits by the dissimilar 
character of his successor^ we may perhaps approach the subject 
with better chances of arriving at truth. 

The pohcy of the house of Bomanoff would seem to have been 
dictated far more by natural causes of race and geographical posi- 
tion than by the peculiar character of its princes. To Peter the 
Great the glory may be given of having clearly i)eroeived the exact 
position in which Russia stood relatively to the East and the West^ 
her past and her prospective history^ and of having carried out 
with unwavering decision and striking success the policy which he 
conceived to be the best solution of the problem. To his succes- 
sors the praise is also to be allotted that^ while never losing sight 
of the general direction in which his sagacious mind had pr^eter- 
mined that the national life of Russia should move, they showed 
themselves fully alive to the necessity of accommodating this 
march to the shifting contingencies of each particular epoch, 
and superadded their own contributions of experience and reflec- 
tion to the management and development of tiie movement. All 
more or less sensual, they were none of them the mere slaves of 
their sensuality, but used it as an instrument of personal ambition 
and national aggrandisement. The favourites of Catherine II. 
were not mere parasites of the palace, but generals, statesmen, 
and even wise legislators^ whose benefits to the nation are still 

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152 The Czar Nicholas. 

gratefully remembered, while their allegiance to the sovereign 
was of a nature which necessarily identified them with her inter- 
ests. The very madness of some of the Bomanoffii had its poli- 
tical and social meaning, and was something very different from 
the purposeless frenzy of Asiatic despots. Thus, although the 
crimes and excesses which political refugees have laid at the door 
of this great house can few of them be denied or excused, we ex- 
perience a very different feeling in reading the records of their 
strange and eventful reigns from that inspired by the monoton- 
ous chronicles of murder and lust which are all that some nations 
can give us as a substitute for national history. Of the succes- 
sors of Peter the Great, including his own wrfe, four have been 
women, and a royal tragedy has ushered in and closed the reign 
of a large proportion ; yet the helm of state has never any where 
been held consecutively by firmer or more masculine hands, nor 
has the course of the vessel ever deviated less materially from 
the points observed at the commencement of the voyage. We 
have something to consider, therefore, not only in the nature of 
the problem which the founder of the greatness of the empire 
had originally to solve, and the manner in which he set about its 
solution, but also in the peculiar genius of the family which en- 
abled them to deal so successfully with the task bequeathed to 
them. In doing this, we shall not experience any great difficulty 
in arriving at the elements of the distinctive character of the Czar 
Nicholas, or in estimating his share in the results attained. 

A glance at the map of Europe will explain in a moment the 
geographical difficulties with which the Czar Peter and his suc- 
cessors had to contend. On all sides Russia was landlocked; 
and at the close of the seventeenth century she was literally im- 
prisoned within closely guarded barriers. On the north, the keys 
were held by Sweden ; a nation flushed with the remembrance of 
a European reputation, gained under the auspices of the sove- 
reigns of the House of Yasa, and guided and urged onward by 
one of the most gifted of that royal race, little likely to relax 
its hold in any quarter without a determined contest. On the 
south, the outlet of the Black Sea, and the road to Constanti- 
nople, were held by the powerful Khans of the Crimea, — princes 
yielding a nominal superiority of cmly one horse-tail to the Sultan 
of Turkey himself, and treating with the Sublime Porte on a vir- 
tual footing of equality. On the west, all access to the cultivated 
plains of Central Europe was barred by the still unbroken and 
hostile power of Poland ; while the remaining frontier, spreading 
away into the boundless wastes of Asia, seemed to invite a return 
to the nomad habits of the first stage of national life. Within 
the boundaries thus circumscribed, Sdaves, Mongols, and Tah- 
tars had long struggled for supremacy; and the eventual supe- 

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The Czar Nicholas. 153 

riority of the first-named race had been secured at the price of 
protracted and bloody contests^ which had postponed the forma- 
tion of a Russian nation mitil the civilisation of Western Europe 
had passed through some of its most important stages. For a 
time, indeed, Russia had a chance of emerging into the system 
of European nationalities as a feudatory of the Polish monarchy; 
but her patriotic assertion of independence broke the chain of 
communication with the West before its effects had been at all 
materially felt. The Warangian princes, the descendants of Ru- 
rik, isolated in their petty military principalities, had ceased to 
cherish any traditional memory of their Norse origin long before 
they were reduced by the policy of Ivan to the rank of a local 
nobility. Every thing stagnated or tended eastward in this 
shapeless empire of forestland and prairie, when the energy of 
one man ventured to dispute the destiny seemingly allotted by 
nature, and determined that Russia should join on equal terms 
the confederation of European nations, and share in the material 
firuits of their more advanced civilisation. A fierce and desperate 
struggle with her Scandinavian rival gained for Russia not merely 
a footing on the shores of the Gulf of Finland, but the prestige 
of great and startling success among the nations which bordered 
on those waters. St. Petersburg arose on ground conquered as 
much from nature as from the Swede, and maintained with far 
more difficulty against the insidious assaults of river and primi- 
tive morass than against any merely human enemy. Tliough 
this new gateway of his empire, Peter had resolved to introduce 
among an Asiatic population the arts and social habits of West- 
em Europe. He had, however, to contend with an obstacle even 
more formidable than the physical one which he had already 
overcome, in the peculiarities and prejudices of the Sclavonic 
race. Pliant and easily moulded into an outward conformity to 
prescribed patterns, the Sdavonic type is essentially unyielding 
and unalterable in its intrinsic characteristics. The Czar Peter 
dressed it after the European fashion, taught it to speak in 
more than one European language, introduced it to European 
fashions of vice and European canons of morality. He drilled 
its army after the most approved European authorities, and 
called into existence the germs of a European navy. He trans- 
planted its population into a city which in its externals rivalled 
the magnificence and luxury of the Western capitals ; and he 
reproduced within its palaces and streets the semblance of an ad- 
vanced state of European civilisation. But he was as little able 
to force European feelings and habits below the surface of the 
national character, as he was to keep the stucco palaces from 
crumbling under the influence of an arctic climate, and the tim- 
bers of his infant navy from rotting during their periodical im- 

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154 The Czar Nicholas. 

prisonment within their icy dockyards. Upon this stubborn sub- 
stratum of Sclavonic nationality^ neither the varnish of French 
conventionalities spread over the face of society by Catherine II., 
nor the Grerman bureaucracy of subsequent sovereigns, have pro- 
duced any sensible effects ; and to this day the main characteris- 
tics of Sclavism remain unchanged among the peasantry of the 
interior, and peep forth from beneath the foreign mask of the 
capital itself. It has become more and more apparent with each 
successive century, that while the territorial aggrandisement of 
Russia has been achieved through the medium and at the expense 
of Western civilisation, the national life can be developed into a 
corresponding degree of greatness only through the recognition 
and on the basis of Sclavism. 

Peter the Great, therefore, was more successful in securing a 
wider field of action for the national life than in forcing it for- 
ward into a royal road of progress. His policy, and that of his 
successors, secured a southern gateway in the Crimea, and esta- 
blished a standing '^ menace'' to the rest of Europe in the acqui- 
sition of the Polish outpost. But, on the other hand, the inter- 
nal policy of the empire in later years has been a retrograde one 
from many of his favourite ideas, and Russia is still far from 
having realised his dream of becoming bond'-fide European. He 
succe^ed in making it a power in Europe, but not a European 
power. The premature and superficial civilisation which he 
superinduced upon Russian society, while it has procured the 
admission of the court and cabinet of St. Petersburg into the 
fraternity of European princes and statesmen, has bequeathed a 
great and increasing difiiculty to successive rulers, and has proved 
no small obstacle to the growth of the native and home-spuiv 
character of the people. 

It would be no uninteresting task to follow in detail the 
attempts of the successive sovereigns of Russia since the time of 
Peter the Great to carry out both branches of his scheme; but 
our present object is a more limited one, and we have perhaps 
said enough to render more intelligible the position of the Czar 
Nicholas with respect to his own people and the other nations 
of Europe. The third in birth of the four sons of Paul, he can 
scarcely be said to have been bom to the purple. Considerably 
younger than his next brother Constantino, he could not, under 
any circumstances, have made his appearance in public life be- 
fore the character and calibre of his elder brothers had already 
been tolerably well ascertained; and the remoteness of his 
chance of succession, joined to the natural subordination of 
his position, must have given him time to mature his views 
and develop his character before he was forced into the ordeal 
of public criticism. It is not surprising, then, that the earliest 

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The Czar Nicholas. 155 

accounts which we gather of his personal appearance and mental 
powers far from correspond to the impression created by him 
when he emerged into the character of a crowned Czar. Phy- 
sically, the tall, slender, unformed figure fell far short of the 
stately beauty which struck every one when it supported the 
weight of imperial dignity; nor did the thin sharp features of 
the young man suggest any anticipation of the same when ex- 
panded under the consciousness of autocratic power. Those 
who knew him in his private station (we are told) could scarcely 
recc^nise him afterwards ; and it is not unlikely that the change 
in their mutual relations had no inconsiderable effect in pro- 
ducing, this result. Such at least was certainly the case with 
the estimate formed of his intellectual capacity. No one hafl 
imputed to the countenance of the Czar Nicholas the expression 
of want of mind, nor have even his ordinary actions raised in 
observers the suspicion of merely ordinary mental powers. Yet 
so late as the strange interregnum which succeeded the death of 
Alexander, and while speculation was rife as to the comparative 
chances of happiness for Russia under Constantino and Nicholas, 
an intelligent German present on the spot, and a close observer 
of men and manners, speaks thus disparagingly of the future 
emperor. After stating his opinion that the reign of Constan- 
tine, notwithstanding his eccentricities, might prove salutary 
to Russia by the energy, though irr^ular, with which he would 
probably probe the £seased body-politic, M. Schnitzler pro- 

'^This might not perhaps be the esse, should Nicholas ascend the 
throne. Still young and inexperienced, he would probably hardly 
have courage to enter upon a career of reform ; he would perhaps be 
content to tread in the steps of his brother and predecessor, whom he 
has been accustomed to regard as a model of perfection. He has been 
accustomed to swear bj his brother ; he knows no other system than 
his ; he has learned to love that which he loved, to esteem that which 
he esteemed, and to disregard all that did not merit his approbation. 
No great talents are recognisable in Nicholas ; his studies have not 
been of the most serious kind, though conducted under the direction 
of his mother, a woman of strong sense and firm will. It was said at 
Gotchina, that Nicholas, and his brother Michael showed so little dis- 
position to profit by the instructions of their tutors, or to yield obedi- 
ence to them, that it sometimes needed all the authority of the mother 
to uphold that of the master.'* 

It is not a little creditable to the writer of the above, that he 
should have had the good sense to publish in later years an' ac- 
count which reflects so little credit on his foresight and discri* 
mination, but which probably conveys the opinion of almost 
every one, except a few who were brought into closer and more 

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156 The Czar Nicholas. 

confidential intercourse with the future prince. Nicholas, in- 
deed, ascended the throne without any definite feeling respecting 
him in the public mind, except a little doubt as to his energy 
and capacity. His two elder brothers, so long previously be- 
fore the public eye, had achieved each of them some amount of 
popularity with different classes of society. Alexander, notwith- 
standing the vacillation of his policy and the well-known weak- 
ness of his will, still retained, by his amiability and goodness 
of intention, a considerable amount of affection among the Rus- 
sians generally ; while his previous leanings towards liberalism, 
although abandoned during his later years, still rendered him 
personaDy an object of regretful hope and respectful sympathy 
among the more cultivated classes. He was not, however, po- 
pular with the army, nor with some of the more ardent of the 
reformers, who considered his fickle coquetry with the idea of 
progress as more fatal to the interests of their country than even 
an avowed and consistent opposition to liberal ideas. With the 
army, and to some extent with the "constitutional party/' which 
met in deliberation at clubs and secret political societies, Con- 
stantine was the greater favourite, and was looked upon with 
considerable hope. The type of character presented by that 
singular man was evidently very similar to that of his father ; 
but with greater capacities both for good and evil. As a child, 
he was the especial favourite of his grandmother Catherine, who, 
much as she disliked her son, took considerable pleasure in the droll 
eccentricities of her little grandson; and it was no mere fool who 
could have obtained any such hold on the feelings of the Czarina. 
Ugly and uncouth beyond the ordinary signification of these 
words — habitually rough and boisterous, and outrageously brutal 
when (as was often the case) entirely surrendered to the impulse 
of his ungovernable frenzies — Constantine had also alternations 
of the noblest feelings, and even the most tender and delicate 
sensibility. He was throughout his life a savage child, with a 
kindly frankness in his happier moods which redeemed to some 
extent the unrestrained impulses of his '^ Berserker^' madness. 
Brought up from a boy in the ranks of the army, he was alter- 
nately adored by them for his congenial disposition, and dreaded 
almost beyond endurance for his capricious martinetism. Out 
of the army his general popularity was not great in Russia, and 
some amount of jealousy had been felt in that empire at the un- 
disguised preference which he had displayed for the kingdom of 
Poland, which had been committed to his viceroyalty. For Po- 
land he raised an efficient army, and drilled it to distraction; 
labouring only under the singular fear that a war might break 
out, which would spoil the uniforms of the men and ruin their 
parade discipline. For Poland he had done much in the general 

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The Czar Nicholas. 157 

administration of the kingdom ; but in this department also^ by 
his constitutional love of minutiae, ivhich led lum to assume the 
functions of chief director of the. secret political police, he had 
alienated the affections of the national party, and eventually 
precipitated a contest nearly as ruinous to Russian as to Polish 
liberty. He had espoused for his second wife a Polish lady ; and 
had thus placed in the public mind a great barrier in the way of 
his accession to the Russian empire — even though it was only 
imperfectly known that he had made this marriage the occasion, 
or it had been made for him the pretext, of a renunciation on 
his part of his succession to the empire. 

By the side of Alexander and Constantine, thus supported 
and opposed, Nicholas stood alone (for his younger brother 
Michael was a mere feeble copy of Constantine) — if unopposed 
by any strong party, not able to count beforehand on the 
warm support of any; but although little regarded by the 
public, the qualities for empire which he proved subsequently 
to possess must have been apparent to at least three persons — 
to his brother the Emperor Alexander, who secretly (by an am- 
biguous stretch of prerogative) designated him as his successor, 
to the exclusion of Constantine ; to his mother Maria-Feodo- 
rowna, who strongly approved of this disposition ; and to the ex- 
cluded person himself. Some sparks of latent czarism must have 
been drawn forth by the rough wit of Constantine, even through 
the placid non-conducting exterior of Nicholas, to have pro- 
voked the following comic drama, the reality of which rests on the 
authority of the Grand-Duke Michael and of Nicholas himself. 
The court memorialist tells the story thus : *' After suffering from 
a severe illness, the Grand-Duke Michael Paulovitch was advised 
to drink the waters of Carlsbad and Marienbad during the sum- 
mer months of 1821. On his return to Russia, he visited Warsaw, 
the constant residence of the Cesarevitch. At that city, and at the 
same time, was expected the Grand-Duke Nicholas Paulovitch, 
with his grand-duchess, then returning from the baths of Ems. 
During the preparations which were being made for the latter 
personages, the Cesarevitch one day said to his brother, ' You see, 
MicheP — so he was in the habit of calling him — 'with you we 
make ourselves quite at home, without ceremony ; but when I 
expect my brother Nicholas, I always fed as if I were preparing 
to meet the Emperor himself!^ '^ Accordingly, on the arrival of 
Nicholas at Warsaw, '^ the Cesarevitch received this new guest 
with his usual kindness and hospitality, but often reduced him 
to the greatest embarrassment by signs of honour and ceremonial 
respect which did not correspond to his rank. The grand-duke 
tried every expedient to escape from these testimonies of defer- 
ence, and begged to be relieved from a degree of respect which 

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158 The Czar Nicholas. 

sometimes almost took the form of extravagance and caricatnre ; 
but the elder brother excused himself by saying jestingly, ^ This 
is all because you are Tsar of^Mirlikii/^' — ^the town of which St. 
Nicholas was bishop, — "a sort of nickname which he fipom that 
time forward began to employ frequently in speaking of Nicholas 

The mention of this curious scene at Warsaw, as told in the 
recently published official narrative, leads us to consider the com- 
plex circumstances attending the renunciation of Constantine, and 
the promotion of the "Tsar of MirKkii'^ to a greater czarate. The 
facts themselves are not very clear or consistent in this authorUed 
account, and the inferences to be drawn therefrom are still more 
doubtful. It is asserted, that as long ago as this visit of Michael 
to Warsaw, the Cesarevitch had resolved to waive his right ; and 
that this resolution was then communicated by him confidentially 
to his youngest brother. In January 1822 foUowing, the act it- 
self is assarted to have taken place, so far as Constantine himself 
was concerned ; though the fonnal document embodying and con- 
firming it was not drawn up by the Emperor Alexander till some 
time afterwards. Nidiolas himself is said to have received, to- 
gether with his wife, an intimation from the Emperor of the 
honour in store for him ; but no formal communication on the 
subject. On the point of the exact extent of the knowledge of 
Nicholas at the death of Alexander, there is a contradiction be- 
tween the statements of the memorialist and the written declar- 
ation of the former prince himself in the prods-verbal of the 
meeting of the senate in which the question who was actually 
emperor was fully discussed. However this may be, it was under- 
stood that there was some difficulty in determining whether the 
will of Peter the Great, fixing definitely the rule of succession, 
could be overridden by a disposition of the reigning sovereign, if 
founded on a mere communication of the wish of the person re- 
nouncing. The long delay on the part of Alexander, the secrecy 
observed by him in the matter, and the hap-hazard manner in 
which the circumstances of the hour were eventually left to work 
out for themselves the destiny of Russia, if not to be explained 
by this legal doubt, have received as yet no satisfactory com- 
mentary. The reasons for this step — setting aside the decent 
plea of inferior abilities — ^were understood to be the Polish mar- 
riage of Constantine, and the superior guarantees in the happy 
marriage and large family of Nicholas for an uninterrupted suc- 
cession. The eccentric character of Constantine, and the remem- 
brance of the reign and fate ofPaul, no doubt wdghed considerably 
with Alexander and his advisers. How far Constantine really 
entered cordially into the idea of abdication wiU perhaps never be 
ascertained ; nor, indeed, is it likely that his feelings on the point 

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The Czar Nicholas. 159 

were very definite or constant. There was no proportion in his 
wishes and their gratification. He would willingly abandon the 
greater object under the impulse of the present gratification of 
the less ; and he was quite as likely to have sacrificed a throne to 
his affection for his beautiful Polish wife^ as to have shrunk from 
encountering the risks and labours of so great a position. He pro- 
bably would not have remained very obstinate in his refusal, had 
events themselves called him to it without embarrassment or dif- 
ficulty on his own side, and was willing enough that the Tsar of 
Mirlikii should prove his capacity for government by taking upon 
his own shoulders the dangers and responsibility of the first step 
of assumption; but he had become estranged from Russia by 
long absence and different ties, and he was perhaps not too am- 
bitious of entering on the task of regenerating Russia, of the 
extent and difficulty of which he must have long had ocular 

When the time, however, arrived that his resolution was to 
be put to the test, circumstances seemed determined to play into ' 
his hands notwithstanding his own insouciance. The Emperor 
Alexander, we have said, was no great favourite in the army. 
Essentially a man of the closet, he could not vie with his bro- 
thers Constantine and Michael in the affections of the soldiery. 
Whatever may have been its exact causes or objects, it is certain 
that at the time of the death of Alexander, a dangerous and 
widely-spread military revolt was on the point of explosion in the 
south of Russia. Ultimately this movement took the form of a 
demonstration in favour of a constitution ; but whether that was 
its primary and simple object we cannot, in the silence of the 
conspirators, and with only the ex-parte statements of the govern- 
ment, pretend to determine. It was even said to have been di- 
rected against the life of the Emperor Alexander. Whether this 
military conspiracy was connected with^ and identical in its direc- 
tion with, the plans of the secret societies^ which included men of 
the highest character and ability as well as rank, is also a moot- 
point. M. Tourgueneff, himself one of the principal members of 
these clubs, and during the whole reign of Nichoks a proscribed 
exile through participation in their sdleged seditious intentions^ 
denies altogether the connection of the two movements; and his 
recall by the present Emperor seems to lend credit to the denial. 
They both, however, virtually cooperated to render the position 
of Nicholas a very precarious one at the death of his brother, 
and to give to Constantine a chance, if he chose to avail him- 
self of it, of withdrawing from his abdication. The conduct of 
Nicholas when made definitely acquainted with the disposition 
of Alexander in his favour, deposited in the cathedral at Moscow 
and the senate-house at St. Petersburg, was unexceptionable, 

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160 The Czar Nicholas. 

so far as the simple rules of private honour were concerned. 
Whether in a broader and patriotic sense it did not exhibit a 
desire to shield himself behind the personal action of Constan- 
tine at the expense of public order^ and with the chance (which 
was unluckily realised) of exposing the common soldiers to the 
demoralising effects of a mystification^ is perhaps a fair question 
for the casuist. Constantine, however, declined to take upon 
himself the part assigned by his brother in either alternative. 
He persisted in writing from Warsaw to confirm his renuncia- 
tion ; he persisted in refusing to come to St. Petersburg to lend 
this abdication the weight of his personal attestation to its volun- 
tary character. Michael contrived to be sent on a mission be- 
tween the two brothers^ and remained half-way between the two 
capitals, waiting to see what course events would take, and which 
brother would prevail in the cross game of personal disinterested- 
ness and prudent selfishness. At last Nicholas had to take the 
step himself, and by himself j and now all accounts agree in 
admiration of his firm, dignified, and self-possessed demeanour. 
Whether he actually possessed much physical courage, is a disputed 
point between his detractoqr and his friends. Moral courage, 
however, he certainly possessed to an extent quite sufficient to 
compensate for and cover any want of the less noble quality. 
He proceeded calmly to take measures for public order; and so 
far as these could be looked to by himself, they were effective. 
The commandant of the city, however, was over-confident of 
tranquiUity. The military conspirators, half betrayed already, 
thought it their wisest plan to seize the opportunity which events 
had made for them, and to raise the standard of a legitimate and 
reforming cry for ^^ Constantine and the constitution.^^ The 
troops, already sworn to Constantine as their czar, wavered ; and 
many of them, refusing the new oath to Nicholas, seized their 
arms and flocked to the great square in front of the senate- 
house. Thither came the principal conspirators, bringing rein- 
forcements as fast as they could collect them ; and thither with 
a rapid levy of faithful soldiers Nicholas himself proceeded, and, 
face to face with the insui^ents, watched the progress of negotia- 
tions with them, and the arrival of fresh troops to his own stand- 
ard. Michael now appeared on the scene, and at length took 
his side openly with Nicholas. The result is well known. Sur- 
rounded by the troops of Nicholas, the insurgents repelled all 
attacks with loss ; until the artillery — ^first directed, it is said (for 
lack of another initiative), by the hand of Michael himself— swept 
through their ranks a storm of death before which they suc- 
cumbed, and Nicholas became master of Russia in fact as well 
as name. 

The troubled days of December 1826 had come to an end^ 

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The Czar Nicholas. 161 

aad the new Emperor inaugurated his reign by a strict examina- 
tion into the views and conduct of the captured insurgents^ if 
such, under the circumstances of the case^ they could properly 
he called. Justice or vengeance did its work on many of them 
— that is to say, they were either shot or sent off to spend an 
indefinite portion, if not the remainder, of their lives in the dis- 
mal climate of Siberia. The new Czar showed much personal 
interest in the examinations; but a total disregard to the senti- 
mental, apart from pohtical, considerations which had distin- 
guished his brother ^exander. Perhaps this was as well in the 
end, although the immediate consequences were harsh and un- 
pleasing. The mixture of vague and feeble sentimentality with 
the caprices of despotism is a doubtful improvement upon the 
cold formality of avowed political expediency. Prom the first it 
became apparent that Nicholas was a man who, without being 
naturally cruel, was devoid of those impulses of feeling, either one 
way or the other, by which the character of his brother Constan- 
tino had been raused to heroism or depressed to brutality, and by 
which in a milder and more intellectual fashion the susceptible 
heart and brain of Alexander had been affected. Kindness was 
not alien to his disposition, and in his own family he gave little 
reason for reproach in that respect. Towards those friends whom 
he respected he displayed lasting and firm attachments. But he 
had li^e respect (inteUectuaUy) for weakness or folly of any kind, 
least of all for that which subordinated the seeming necessities of 
State policy to the romantic and generous impuke of the indi- 
vidual. This hard cast of mind — or rather this too well guarded 
sensibility — coloured even his more trifling actions, and gave an 
appearance of want of delicacy to what would otherwise in them- 
selves have been unexceptionable proceedings enough. When 
to this pecuUar character was added the known possession of ab« 
solute power, no wonder that pleasant jests became formidable 
matters to those who had the honour, or misery, of being then* 
sabjects. A story is told in one or two works which exhibits 
the peculiar sardonic humour of the Czar in so curious a light 
with reference to this point, and so broadly distinguishes it from 
the pleasantry of a man of more genial temperament, that we 
may perhaps hazard the imputation of telling again a thrice-told 
tale, and repeat it. A certain Jakovleff, one of the wealthiest 
men in Russia, and proprietor of one of the most productive 
iron-works, was supposed to have presumed on his wealth, and 
shown too independent a spirit by evading the load of honours and 
oflBices which a man in his position was expected to seek. Among 
other slights consequent therefrom, he was refused permission 
to travel ; and for consolation, indidged himself on the Newsky 
parade at St Petersburg in the most outri foreign costume which 


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162 The Czar Nicholas. 

his fancy could deyise. On liis head was a little peaked bat, 
resembling a flower-pot reversed ; a handkerchief with a gigantic 
bow was tied round his neck ; a cloak reduced to the dimensions 
of a cape was thrown over his shoulders ; and on his chin he wore 
a beard d la Henri Quatre. An enormous oaken cudgel in his 
hand^ a glass stuck in the comer of his eye, and a bull-dog fol- 
lowing at his heels, made a tout ensemble fit, one would suppose, 
'' to set before a king/' And so it did befall M. Jakovleff that, 
while sauntering along, he encountered the Emperor's carriage. 
The equipage was abruptly stopped ; the Emperor himself leaned 
forward, and beckoning the exquisite to approach him, " Pray,'* 
said Nicholas, eyeing him with affected curiosity, '' who in Goii^s 
name are you, and where do you come from?'' " May it please 
your majesty, I have the honour to be your majesty's faithful 
subject. Save Saveitch Jakovleff." " Indeed," replied the Em- 
peror, ''we are enchanted to have the opportunity of making 
your acquaintance. Save Saveitch. Oblige us by just stepping 
up and taking a seat beside us." Jakovleff slily let drop his 
cudgel, and with some misgivings took his seat. "But stt^," 
said the Emperor, when they had driven on a little way, ''where 
is your stick. Save Saveitch ?" " O, ne?er noind the stick, your 
majesty." " O, we must have your stick, Save Saveitch. Turn 
back," he said to the coachman. The stick picked up, they 
drove on straight to the palace. Nicholas alighted, and beckoned 
to Jakovleff to follow him. " O no, Save Saveitch, don't take off 
your cloak ; we must have you just as you are — ^hat, and stick, 
and cloak, and all." The Emperor led the way straight to the 
apartment of the Empress. " Pray, my dear," he inquired of 
her, " do you know who this is?" " No," replied the Empress, 
bursting into a fit of laughter. " Then allow me to inform you 
that this is our faithful subject. Save Saveitch Jakovleff. What 
do you think of him ? Is he not a pretty fellow ?" The unfor- 
tunate exquisite, after furnishing food for some minutes' merri- 
ment, was dismissed, half-dead with terror and confusion. But 
before he departed, he was admonished that the Emperor did 
not always punish the foolery of his subjects so leniently. The 
man went home, took to his bed, and fell very dangerously ill. 
Whether the story be circumstantially true or not, there is 
little doubt that it reproduces accurately the temperament of 
the Czar. 

In one direction, the Czar's want of sjnnpathy for the more 
romantic and delicate considerations which other princes have 
admitted into their gravest counsels, had an unfortunate effect. 
Poland had, in the eyes of Europe generally, claims of a peculiar 
character to consideration, ajmrt from mere political projects. 
The traditional heroism of the Poles in past days, and the ddi- 

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T%e Czar Nicholas. 163 

▼erance of Western Europe from the Ottoman aims wrought by 
their great king before the walls of Vienna^ had invested that 
country with a romantic interest^ which had mitigated to some 
extent her unhappy lot in later times. Frederick of Prussia was, 
indeed, not a man to entertain such feelings ; but even the cold- 
blooded Maria Theresa had admitted them in her conscience, 
though she had not firmness to act upon its dictates. Alexander 
of Bussia had amused himself, edified the liberal party in Eu- 
rope, and raised the hopes of the Poles themselves, with ideas of 
a revived nationality apart from Russia, and a perfect restitution 
of Polish liberty and independenca That he at one time seri- 
ously entertained this project, seems certain ; and he went so 
far as to include the older provinces of Poland in his paper gene- 
rosity. But the liberal outbursts in Southern Europe alarmed 
him into the extremest absolutism ; and with his entrance into 
the Holy Alliance, disappeared his dreams about Poland. Not 
so with the Poles themselves. The national aspirations thus 
awakened went on growing in strength^ until at length they im- 
parted some degree of turbulence to the small amount of free- 
dom still left in that country, and roused the jealous police-fears 
of Constantine. This ungrateful people, for whom he had done 
and sacrificed so much, seemed to be only desirous of getting 
rid of his fatherly surveillance. Distrust provoked tyranny, and 
tyranny with Constantine was anoth^ name for every excess of 
brutality ; until at length, goaded to madness, the students and 
army rose, were joined by the middle and upper classes, and 
his conffi was quietly given to the Cesarevitch. It is not neces- 
sary to recall the struggle which ensued. Once reconquered, 
Nich<das was not the man to allow mere romantic recollections 
of the past to weigh against pi'esent sins and future security. 
Sternly, and with cold-blooded cruelty, the remains of the insur- 
rection were stamped out, and the uj^ortunate participators in 
it either subjected to the piBMB dura of Siberia, or scattered 
over the face of Western Europe — noble petitioners for justice 
before every European nation, and dependents on their own in- 
dustry or the unpleasingly ostentatious charity of others. What- 
ever their £aults may have been, and however deficient their 
national character may be in the elements of stability and order, 
the returns of our criminal courts at least offer a noble testimony 
to the unoffending lives which they have led in their adopted 
countries ; and if the interest once professed, if not felt, in their 
cause has somewhat abated with the mass, it will not have lost 
any thing with those who are capable of estimating broader po- 
litical considerations, or who do not think the less of noble and 
patient endurance when not paraded as a merit before public 
meetings, and celebrated in Guildhall charitaUe festivities by 

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164 The Czar Nicholas. 

city magnates. Upon the character of Nicholas the fate of Po- 
land fixed a stain in the eyes of free Europe which has never 
been completely effaced; and never, perhaps, was his calculating 
policy less wise in its generation than in this instance. He gave, 
what he should have been most on his guard against giving, an 
alarm to Western Europe as to the possible fate of the countries 
bordering on Russia; and he brought before them in strong 
colours the autocratic tyranny congenial to, and only explained 
by, Russian society. 

The same unshrinking resolution, however, which operated 
so unpleasingly in this quarter, appeared to great advantage in 
other crises. Upon the heels of the Polish war came the cholera 
— ^not merely destroying in its direct agencies, but demoralising 
the minds of the population, and rousing their ignorant fears 
into the most fanatical excesses. The mysterious disease was 
attributed to poison, distributed by Poles, foreigners, or the au- 
thorities themselves, through the agency of the medical profes- 
sion. Throughout Russia, but at St. Petersburg especially, an 
indiscriminate massacre of aU connected with the medical pro* 
fession took place ; they were hurled out of windows, their heads 
carried on pikes, and their bodies torn to shreds. The police 
sought safety in concealment ; and the mob proceeded from one 
extravagance to another, till the Emperor n)de out alone into 
the midst of the iniuriated ranks of the soldiery (who had been 
affected by the general madness), addressed the rioters in the 
sternest tones of his sonorous voice, and commanded them to 
kneel in the dust, and endeavour to propitiate the wrath of the 
Almighty, who had sent this visitation for their sins, and not in- 
crease His anger by their lawless conduct. The crowd, awed by 
his imposing and majestic manner, kneeled down as one man, fol- 
lowed him in the prayer which he offered up, and, quite humbled 
by his subsequent reprimand, returned to order and obedience. 

The indignation of Western Europe at his treatment of Po- 
land may have had some effect in turning the thoughts of Ni- 
cholas more especially to the development of the national, as 
opposed to the exotic, European element in his empire. But it 
is certain that he had already entered on this task ; and that 
from the beginning of his reign he had committed himself to 
the wise, though to observers perplexing, plan of working out a 
Russian national policy through the medium of Grerman advisers. 
The laws of Russia were, at his accession, in a most confused and 
heterogeneous state, and codification of some sort seemed im- 
peratively called for. Alexander, who had perceived this neces- 
sity, had thrown the labour on various commissions, which, with- 
out single directing energy, and composed of men destitute of 
independent energies, lingered on without resulting in any legis- 

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The Czar Nicholas. 165 

lative pToduction. The commissioners had vacillated between 
a digest of existing laws and usages^ and a new philosophical 
system of legislation. Between these there was a wider dissi- 
dence in this country than elsewhere on the continent of Europe ; 
for Russia^ to use the words of a Russian, " had received no part 
of the Roman inheritance" of jurisprudence. " We have been 
obliged/' he continues, ''to derive our whole legislation from 
our national sources — from our customs, traditions, and expe- 
rience. Civil laws, criminal laws, laws of administration and in- 
terior police— every thing had to be erected and constructed 
anew, and with our own materials.'^ Nicholas, guided by his 
counsellor Speranski, did not hesitate for a moment between the 
task of this reconstruction from existing materials and a new 
code, but decided for the former, and thus put himself in har- 
mony with the real usages of Russia. He gave orders for the 
immediate completion of a preliminary collection of the existing 
laws. Many of these were no doubt exotic in their character ; 
but some preserved the national spirit, and all had gained the 
prestige of time and custom. The printing of this collection 
began on the 1st of May 1828, and was finished (in its first stage) 
on the Ist of April 1830. Besides the titles of the code of 1649, 
it was composed of 35,993 acts, of which 30,920 were anterior to 
the accession of Nicholas, whilst no less than 5073 belonged to 
the seven years from 1825 to 1832, the date of its publication. 
This first labour finished, there ensued a second, that of co- 
ordination, which was peiformed with similar diligence. They 
were directed to restore with all speed the primitive text, even 
at the expense of conciseness ; to curtail the preambles of every 
ukase and act whatever; to expunge all the acts positively abro- 
gated by subsequent enactments; to avoid tautology; to arrange 
all the laws in force, in order of subject-matter, methodically, and 
so as to form several codes; to give separately such as govern 
certain provinces, to the exclusion of others, and thus to form 
codes of a local application apart ; and, lastiy, to submit every 
part of the work to the revision of competent authorities. Such 
was the concordance of the laws, called in Russian " Svod," which 
the genius of Nicholas conceived, and his energy alone carried to 
a successful and steady completion. As early as February 12, 
1833, an imperial manifesto solemnly announced that the work 
was completed. It did not make the Svod immediately obliga- 
tory ; but it prescribed that it should come into force on the 
Ist of January 1835. But the work of legislation did not end 
here. Provision was to be made for the codification of future 
legislative acts ; and for this purpose a series of annual labours 
was appointed, to bring the new laws into the same system of 
order and uniformity. 

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166 The Czar Nicholas. 

If the existence of a system of positive laws could be in itself 
a sufScient protection to the citieen^ here assuredly we might 
have expected to find it. Nor were, on the whole, the injunc- 
tions of the Czar himself to his judges and administrators less in 
accordance with a just regard to private rights. But, unfortii- 
nately, the commands of an autocrat are least obeyed where they 
would be attended with most benefit to a third party ; nor can 
the most anxious introspection of the eye of an imperial master 
secure any thing like the same substantiid realisation of the bless- 
ings he seeks to bestow on his people, that is attained by the 
subtle working, through continuous years, of the spirit of free in- 
stitutions among a self-goveming community. We have already 
alluded to the false surface of refinement which had been spread 
over Muscovite barbarism. Niai;ured by this, and increased by 
the perpetual pressure of imperial authority, corruption had sunk 
too deeplv into the very grain of official minds to be eradicated by 
an impenal ukase to deal justly between man and man, in simple 
accordance with the new Svod. Qutt cuatodiet ipsos cnstodes f 
The Emperor might command and threaten, and, when he had 
the means of discovering the culprit, severely pimish; but how 
futile and how few would these convictions be, in the face of a 
community of administrators bound together by the sure tie of 
common profits in roguery I A story in one of the volumes be- 
fore us will illustrate the working of this system : A poor noble- 
man had been carrying on a lawsuit for several years, when he 
received an intimation from the secretary of the tribunal, that 
unless he paid over 10,000 roubles (450/.) to the president, the 
case would be decided against him. The unfortunate litigant, 
who could not raise as many pence, bethought him ci applying 
to Count Benkendorff, the chief of the secret-service, who he 
had been led to believe was personally anxious to make an ex* 
ample of some of the delinquents, and who was one of the four 
or five men holding office in the empire who were deemed incor- 
ruptible by the common rumour. The party referred to offered 
the Count to famish him with an unquestionable proof of the 
venality of the president of the court of appeal ; and for that 
purpose, proposed that he should be intrust^ with the amount 
of the bribe demanded in notes privately marked. He undertook 
that these notes should be found on the president's person. The 
Count consented. Since the good old times of Alexander I., the 
officials never make their bai^ains, or receive any money, before a 
third party. Their dread of the anger of Nicholas ever occasioned 
them to resort to many precautions formerly not dreamed of; 
and in this instance the president declined receiving the money 
in* his house, but proposed that the litigant should invite him to 
diimer at a tavern which he indicated, and there pay over the 

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T%e Czar Nicholas. 167 

amount to him. The propositioii was acceded to ; and his host 
caused an officer dl gendarmerie to be stationed in an adjacent 
closet. The president made his appearance; he signified by 
the action of his fingers that their pecuniary transaction had 
better precede the gastronomic entertainment : the host accord- 
ingly handed him a small roll of bank-notes ; the president 
counted them over in a very business-like way, and tossed them 
into his hat. As this was not yet quite satisfactory^ in the hope 
that his guest would finally transfer the money to hus person, his 
Amphitryon deferred giving the signal for the appearance of the 
secret* poUce agent, and they sat down to dinner. At this mo- 
ment some one knocked ; it was the president's nephew, come 
to him with some trifling message firom his lady. The judge gave 
him a brief answer, and bowed him out. At the conclusion of 
their dinner, he was preparing to depart; he had pulled on 
his over-coat, and put his hat on his h^td, when, on the precon- 
certed signal, the officer of ffeHdarmerie rushed into the apartment 
with an order from the Count Benkendor£f to search his person. 
'* Do not give yourself the trouble to search him," said the ex- 
cited nobleman, ^'you will find the bank-notes in his hat." The 
president smiled blandly, and took his hat off at once; it was 
empty : whack his nephew went out, he had taken up lus uncle's 
hat instead of hia own. The judge thus not only avoided the 
trap laid for him, but secured the bait ; and doubly punished the 
informer, — firstly, by deciding the case against him ; and secondly, 
because, not having substantiated hia charge, he was obliged to 
refund the 10,000 roubles advanced by the police. Can any one 
doubt, says the writer who supplies the anecdote, that this worthy 
minister of public justice had received a private hint from Count 
Benkendorff's office? In any case, what a state of things must 
have existed, when such a story could be currently told, and gene- 
rally accepted as true ! 

Some of the blame of interference with the legitimate conse- 
quences of his own legislative efforts must be shaied by the Czar 
Nicholas himself with his corrupt officials. In calling into ex- 
istence a fixed rule of justice, the Emperor had given new au- 
thority to a power inconsistent with pure autocracy. Nicholas, 
however, was not very much troubled at this; and leaving the 
general operation of justice to be guided by law, never scrupled 
himself to interpose his own will, in utter defiance of law, when- 
ever it suited his purposes or wishes. He might have remem- 
beared, and probably did remember, that such an evil example in 
the highest quarter would not be lost on the lower grades of 
authorities ; but he was conscious that this was one of the limi- 
tations which the preservation of hia despotic authority imposed 
on his better plans for the wel£Eure of his coimtry. The same was 

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168 The Czar Nicholas. 

the case elsewhere; — in the military and commissariat departments 
of the State he was conscious of the government being grossly 
robbed and cheated, but found it necessary to wink at a large 
amount of peculation and deception, rather than hazard an entire 
reform which might entail upon him the diminution of his per- 
sonal authority by the interposition of other tribunals of account. 
Alexander, more amiable, but less sagacious, played with liberal 
ideas, and tampered with the structure of despotism, without 
having the courage to remove it entirely, and evoke a new orga- 
nisation from the rising spirit of the nation. Nicholas saw clearly 
how much good he could effect without injury to his autocracy ; 
and was not overpowered with anxious regret because he also saw 
the great imperfections which he must necessarily allow to re- 
main. In considering the measures which he initiated or carried 
out, these facts shoiJd be remembered, or we may fall into the 
mistake of considering him much less far-sighted and well-inten- 
tioned than he really was. He endeavoured to the utmost of his 
physical and mentid powers to supply the want of other super- 
vision over the administration of the empire ; and by rapid and 
sudden journeys from point to point, trie^ to impart a sense of 
that ubiquity in the censorship over abuses which it is the boast 
of popular systems of government to be able to supply. 

It is generally allowed that the system and policy of Nicholas 
were much more Muscovite than that of any of his predecessors. 
This must be understood always, however, with reference to the 
double object which Peter the Great had in view, and which his 
successors still try to carry out, of civilising Russia somewhat 
after the standard of Western Europe, and of giving her a Eu- 
ropean territorial and moral preponderance. The leading idea 
of Sclavism — the patriarchal authority — had been already intro- 
duced by the Czars into the modem svstem of government. Its 
rival, the ecclesiastical authority, had been effectually crushed by 
Peter, and has since become a pliant tool in the promulgation 
among the people of the Sclavonic notion of the sacred character 
attaching to the person of the great father of the State. The 
nobility, originally military chiefs, had passed into the stage of 
proprietors of land — ^not landed proprietors in our sense of the 
term — city residents either at Moscow or St. Petersburg, de- 
pendent for their revenue on land in the country, but not resi* 
dent on their estates, and having no taritorial influence in their 
neighbourhoods corresponding to that of an English landed gen- 
tleman. Their lands are cultivated by the members of the com- 
munes, their serfs, whose allegiance easily passes from one pro- 
prietor of the soil and of themselves to another, without any feel- 
ing of attachment or fealty to their landlord's family.'!^ Many of 

* It is said, howerer, that a change is be^nning to take place in the habits of 

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The Czar Nicholas. 169 

the nobility have become the heads of manufactories in the cities, 
and in that capacity have gathered around them bodies of work- 
men, often their own serfs ; for the spirit of aggregation holds 
good as well in the city as in the country, and a Russian citizen 
of the upper middle-class, in our sense of the term, has been 
hitherto found to be an impossibility. The native private mer- 
chant degenerates rapidly into the mere huckster. Nicholas en- 
couraged the manufactories, which seem more akin to the genius 
of the country ; although they are stiU very deficient in internal 
organisation, and in giving that solidity and value to the articles 
manufactured which honesty and individual pride in the work- 
man can alone secure. He also fostered, by every means in his 
power, the settlement of foreign merchants in St. Petersbui^, 
either hoping that their spirit would become in time contagious, 
or wishing thereby to bind more firmly to Russia the commercial 
inter^ts of the West. He has been accused, indeed, of sacrificing 
much of the Western trade to his jealousy of England; and in 
the same point of view, he is said to have endeavoured to establish 
an eastward trade, which might in time realise the favourite idea 
of Peter the Great, of a trade with India. Still there can be no 
doubt, that during his reign, and under the auspices of his general 
policy, the commercial interests of Russia and the West were 
much more closely intertwined, and that the fluctuations of the 
mercantile community in either were much more sensibly felt in 
the other than was wont to be the case. If projects of railways 
across Russia, after the English fashion, have been somewhat fid- 
lacious and double-faced in the more recent schemes, there can 
be little doubt that the Czar Nicholas had a more shrewd idea 
than most of his predecessors as to the best manner in which the 
arts and inventions of the West might have become acclimated 
on the soil of his empire. 

The position of the serfs throughout the empire, with the 
exception of the Baltic provinces, in which the experiment of 
enfranchisement had been already tried, could not but arrest the 
attention of such a prince as Nicholas, and seems to have touched 
his S3rmpathies more closely than most questions. He even 
dropped unguarded hints at one time of an enfranchisement, 
which led to melancholy consequences. Vague reports spread 
among the serfs that their great father wished to enfranchise 
them, nay, had even given the orders, but that the nobles with- 
held its execution. la several quarters the peasants flew to arms, 
massacred all of their masters whom they could come across, and 
looked for support and reward, instead of punishment and coer- 
cion, from the government of the Czar. Of course they were 

the nobility in this respect, and that many of them have established themselves in 
the eottntry, after the English fashion. 

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170 The Czar Nicholas. 

grieyoualy disaj^inted ; and after that time the Czar maiutained 
a prudent reserre as to his intentionB in this respect. He, how- 
ever, made a considerable advance towards the enfranchisement of 
the Ber& firom slavery to individual masters, by increasing largely 
the number of State-peasants, who had especial privil^es, though 
of course they also were affected by the despotic character of the 
State-government. The communistic principle is so strong in 
Russia, that individual enfranchisement becomes a less e^ mat- 
ter than elsewhere ; and it is chiefly by moving the peasants for- 
ward into more ]^vileged communes that the process of a general 
removal of serfdom can be satisfactorily achieved. Their personal 
sLaveiy to their masters especially is being destroyed little by 
little; and one of the last announcemaits of the new reign is, 
that ser& are to be allowed to marry without the consent of their 

We have left ourselves little space to speak adequately of the 
inciease and reorganisation of the military and naval strength of 
Russia under the late Czar, and of the foreign policy whidi the 
Court of St. Petersburg has pursued during the last quarter of a 
century. So far as the mind and eye of the Emperor could effect 
any thing, the armjr has been greatly improved. There has been 
(after the fashion of military autocrats) too much stress laid on 
the freedom of soldiers' coats from creases upon the parade- 
ground, and too little attention paid (from causes we have already 
alluded to) to the regulation of the commissariat. But on the 
whole, the experience of the last war, considering the nature of 
the materials from which the army was drawn, cannot be said to 
derogate from the reputation of the Russian army. Although 
they have found themselves unequal to the picked troops of 
Western Europe, they have not altt^ether (soled ia maintaining 
the honour of their country ; and the forced marches and des- 
perate aggressive movements, both so alien to the physical cha- 
racter of the Russian soldier, by which the struggle was marked, 
prove that the energy of the Caar had succeeded in calling into 
play new qualities in his army. It must be remembered, that the 
Russian army has been subdivided into several distinct portions ; 
and that besides the army of reserve, there are distinct services 
fixr the frontiers of Western Europe, and for the southern pro^ 
vinces of the empire. The victories of Paskevitch in Hungary 
and in Persia were gained with quite distinct divisions of the 
service ; and it was not until the last war that any thing like the 
whole of the military force of Russia was called into service at 
the same time. The navy has made less progress, although the 
exploits of one or two Russian captains would seem to imply that 
there also a new spirit has been called into existence. 

The foreign policy of Russia requires less careful elucidation 

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The Czar Nicholas. 171 

on the present occasion^ as it has of late years necessarily been 
the subject of much careful examination and comment. That 
Nicholas acted in the spirit of the famous mil of Peter^ there can 
be little doubt ; but he was not hasty or indiscriminate in his 
plans of aggression. He was content to await the natural course 
of events ; and if he assisted their progress towards the desired 
point where direct action became possible on his part^ he seldom 
forcibly precipitated them towards it. His most wanton and 
least excusable aggressions on Turkey had generally some more 
or less plausible pretext in the ill-regulated councils of the Divan^ 
or in the ambiguous movements of other " protecting*' powers. 
In his Greek policy^ he was eminently suocessfdl against some of 
the cleverest of European diplomatists. In the Egyptian affair he 
was less fortunate^ owing probably rather to the subsequent turn 
of events^ whieh displaced Louis Philippe from the throne of 
France^ than to any other cause. His allianoe with England on 
that occasion was rather a preliminary step towards the medi« 
tated attack on Turkey^ by efBecting a decided breach between 
the two Western powers^ than a distinct policy in itself. In the 
Menschikoff demands^ which precipitated the last European con« 
test^ there were good grounds for hoping that no firm alliance 
could be formed between England and fVance^ and that Prussia 
would be neutralised by her family alliance^ and Austria by the 
recent service in Hungary and the recollection of her still unset* 
tied position in that country and in Italy. It is very doubtful 
whether^ after all^ the Cear was not right in his conjecture re* 
specting the Western alliance ; nor is it easy to decide the point 
whether^ had his life been prolonged^ and the genius which pre- 
sided over the destinies of Bussia had not been removed in the 
very crisis of the contest^ the alliance between England and 
France — already growing lukewarm through mutual jealousies — 
would have outlasted the sustained determination of Nicholas. 
We must remember^ in estimating the late Czar's merits as a 
foreign statesman, that he had throughout his entire Eastern 
policy to cont^id against the excess and hasty fervour of Musco- 
vite zeal^ and yet to retain this enthusiasm as a fitting agent in 
his ultimate design. Looked at in this point of view, his long 
self-command wiU probably seem as remarkable as his eventual 
boldness of action. Persia in a great degree provoked the con- 
test which lost her some valuable provinces. The war in Hun- 
gary was a politic step and a poUtic degradation to Austria ; and, 
as it seemed, at the same time a very convenient mode of getting 
some sort of footing in the Sclavonic provinces along the Aus- 
trian portion of the Danube. The politic conduct of the Russian 
officers in the campaign did as much to weaken the respect of 
the population for their Austrian masters as it enhanced with * 

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172 The Czar Nicholas. 

them the reputation of the northern invaders. This is not the 
only instance in which Nicholas contrived to intermix political 
diplomacy with the actual operations of war. 

The private life of Nicholas may be treated of in a few 
words; and then our sketchy however imperfect, may be brought 
to a conclusion. His handsome person and stately demeanour 
have been spoken of. We believe that the general report of 
writers and travellers, that these personal advantages were not 
unattended by some of the sensual habits of his race, is not un* 
founded. There may be exaggeration in the stories told ; but 
the fact of the infidelity of Nicholas to his marriage-vows has 
been irequently commented on, and sometimes palliated by the 
infirm state of health of the Empress. It is agreed, however, 
that if not a faithful husband, the Czar was a kind one ; and that 
h6 consulted the actual decencies of society out of regard to her 
feelings, concealing the extent, though not the fact, of his irre- 

His sons had no reason to complain of a want of paternal 
affection ; and if State considerations to some extent directed the 
choice of his daughters^ consorts, they did not do so in every 
case. The imperial circle — so far as the tyranny of court eti- 
quette would allow — was a happy one, and there were fewer scan- 
dals within its precincts than ift many others. The same per- 
haps cannot be said of the wider circle of the court ; but it must 
be borne in mind, that the corruptions of Western Europe re- 
ceived in this point a strengthening rather than a weakening 
influence in the natural temperament of the Sclave. 

As an administrator of that race, and the races associated 
with them on the extensive soil of Russia, the Czar Nicholas 
may, on the whole, challenge comparison with any sovereign 
placed in circumstances of similar difficulty. It would be folly 
to portray him as either a very mild or entirely just ruler^ 
He has committed many crimes, in a position where the large 
majority of men would probably have committed many more. 
His crimes, as well as his errors, have been those of policy and 
a naturally cold temperament. If, on this account, his actions 
strike us occasionally with horror and indignation, they are not 
inconsistent with a large amount of beneficent and disinterested 
policy in other directions. His littlenesses sprang rather from 
the untoward position of autocrat than from his own particular 
character. He was certainly a worthy successor of Peter the 
Great, and the most successful of those who have endeavoured 
to perfect that monarch's ideas of empire. With the founder of 
St. Petersbuig, and with Catherine IL, he will be hereafter looked 
upon as one of the greatest, though not exactly one of the best, 
of Russia's sovereigns. 

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[ 178 ] 


The World of Mind : an Elementary Book. By Isaac Taylor- 
London : Jackson and Walford, 1857. 

The description which Mr. Taylor gives of his own book on its 
title-page is expressive rather of his aim in producing it than of 
its actual character and contents. It is not an elementary trea- 
tise on psychology, if we are to understand by those terms a 
popular exposition of the leading principles and general results 
of that science, so far as they have been yet discovered, — an in- 
troduction to its profoimder and more systematic study. It is 
an original disquisition, peculiar in its plan and arrangement. 
It embraces more than is ordinarily comprised in works on men- 
tal science. They for the most part concern themselves only 
with the philosophy of the human mind; Mr. Taylor takes in 
the lower animal races also. This inclusion, indeed, is intended 
to be conveyed in the title of his book, which is somewhat am- 
biguous. " The World of Mind^' may either mean, as it is generally 
interpreted, the inner universe, which is revealed to every man 
by self-consciousness, in the sense of the old poet, " My mind to 
me a kingdom is;^^ or it may be taken more objectively, as we 
use the phrases, ^'mineral kingdom,'^ 'Vegetable kingdom,^' to 
denote the several orders of being endowed with the qualities in 
virtue of which these names are bestowed. It is in this second 
Bense that it is used by our author. 

The design of his work is thus expressed : " Much of that 
which is to invite attention in this elementary book will consist 
of an exhibition — ^first, of what is common to all orders of living 
beings ; and then a setting forth of what is peculiar to the human 
mind, and which is the ground of its immeasurable superiority.^' 
The subject thus stated affords the materials for a valuable and 
instructive work; and with such a one Mr. Taylor has pre- 
sented us. But we very much doubt whether the procedure 
he has adopted is likely to produce a volume fitted to occupy 
the first " place in a course of elementary reading in mental 
philosophy .'' Mr. Taylor seems to have been misled by the 
analogy of the physical sciences. In physiolog}% for example, 
it would be worse than useless to confine ourselves to the study 
of the firame of man, with its organs and functions, and to ex- 
clude from attention the related forms of lower animals. Little 
could be learned in this way. ' It may be practicable and con- 
venient here to commence with the study of the laws and con- 
ditions of life as they manifest themselves in the lowest zoophyte; 

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174 The World of Mind. 

and to trace them np^ in their widening range and increasing 
complexity^ to their development in man. The higher and the 
lower structures mutually give and receive light. And if mind 
exhibits itself, in different orders of being, in a similarly ascend- 
ing scale, why should not the same procedure be applibable here? 
"why should we not have a comparative psychology ? The differ- 
ence, though often overlooked in the interests of theories, is per- 
fectly obvious. External objects are known to us by outward 
observation and experiment ; they can be directly compared and 
classified. The human body is an organisation as foreign to the 
examining mind as that of the ape or the tiger. It is not his own 
body that the anatomist dissects, or the physiologist speculates 
npon. On the other hand, no man has direct knowledge of any 
other mind than his own. The philosophy of the himian ^rnind 
is, in every case, neither more nor less than the philosophy of 
the particular mind then speculating. Nothing here can be 
taken on testimony. The experience and results of oth^« are 
of no avail to us until they become our own; and we reject or 
accept them, according as they recommend or fail to recommend 
themselves to our individual consciousness. Self, as contrasted 
with what is not oneself, — ^the facts made known to the mind, 
*' turned inward on its own mysteries,'' as opposed to those which 
the senses teach ns to apprehend, — are the proper objects of psy- 
chology. It is an egotistic science. In its own barbarous lan- 
guage, it deals with '^ the me /' all that belongs to the '^ not 
me'' is beyond its range. In proposing, then, to commence the 
study of it on any lower level than that of the human conscious- 
ness, to work a path upwards from the inferior animals to man, 
Mr. Taylor is ignoring the fundamental distinction on which his 
science depends, and without which it could not ecxist. Strongly 
and even vehemently opposed to all materialising tendencies, 
jealously guarding the frontier-territory of physiology and psy- 
chology against the encroachments and usurpations of the former 
science, protesting wisely and well against the confusion of theo- 
ries (^ organisation and theories of mind, he is yet, by the pro- 
cedure we have eriticbed, all the while playing into the hands of 
the enemy, against whom on other points he does snch service. 

" When we attempt to mark off the world of Mind,'* says Mr. Tay- 
lor, " on the side bordering towards the lower orders of life, namely, 
the vegetative, some ambiguity attaches to many of the instances 
which present themselves on that margin. But the question which 
often perplexes the physiologist, when he inquires concerning this or 
that species whether it should b^ accounted animal or vegetable, is 
wholly unimportant in relation to our present subject. We do not 
concern ourselves with Mind until it comes to manifest itself clearly 
by its own distinctive diaraoterktics; and these, if we ascend a few 

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The World of Mind. 173 

steps only on the scale of animated being, become bo strongly marked 
as to preclude all uncertainty. 

Then, as we ascend step by step upon this scale, we find our- 
selves in the company of beings whose actions and whose modes of 
adapting themselves to the influences and the accidents of the external 
world are readily interpretable by means of our own consciousness, 
and our own modes of action. This criterion, if there were no other, 
would sufficiently serve the purpose of assigning any particular class of 
beings to its due place, as belonging to the upper or to the lower 
orders. It is by this rule of analogy that we admit any species into 
the community of mind, or disallow its claims to that distinction.** 

If the actions and dispositions of animals are only so far to 
be understood by us as they " are readily interpretable by means 
of our own consciousness/' it certainly seems a mistake, an in- 
version of the proper order, to commence the study of our own 
consciousness by examination into the habits and dispositions of 
the lower animals : 

" Yea, sire, and is it thus f 
This is ignotumper ignotiui,^^ 

It 18 to attempt to illustrate the less by the more obseure topic ; 
^^ to hold a farthing rasblighf' (as yet nnkindled) ^^ to the sun/' 
The science of the human mind must have attained a certain 
degree of completeness and certainty^ before we can use it to 
explain the more difficulty because to us less accessible^ subject 
of animal intelligence. It ia^ in £act^ the application of a crude 
and ill-considered human psychology to the expHcation of the 
mental phenomeim displayed by the lower orders of being that 
has involved the latter in more than their original obscurity. 

Having thus stated our dissent from the conception of men- 
tal science which forma the ground-plan of Mr. Taylor's book, 
we proceed to consider in such detail as our space will admit the 
main doctrines and general spirit of his volume. 

Our author declines any definition of his subject, because 
*' a definition can be strictly applicable only when the subject to 
which it relates is thoroughly known to us ;" and offers in its 
place '' a descriptive statement/' which '^ must not be regarded 
as if it were dependent, in ainr rigid manner, upon the precise 
words that may be employed to convey it/' Without criti- 
cising this somewhat extraordinary condition, or stopping to in- 
quire how far such *^ a descriptive statement" is likely ^' at least 
to serve to mark off our proper subject, and to keep it apart from 
other subjects to which it stands related, and with which it is 
very liable to be confounded/' or, again, if it does this, in what 
it differs from a definition properly so called, — we give Mr. Tay- 
lor's own exposition : 

^ Mind, so far as we are cognisant of it by our individual con- 

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176 The World of Mind. 

Bciousness, and hj our intercourse with those like ourselves, and bj 
observation of the various orders of animated beings around us, al- 
though it is conjoined with an animal organisation, is always clearly 
distinguishable therefrom as the subject of intellectual science. But 
when we attempt to describe it, we can do so only as if it were one 
with that animal framework, apart from which we have no direct know- 
ledge of it in any way or in any single instance.** 

We do not know how to assent to this statement^ which seems 
to us self-contradictory. If mind is " clearly distinguishable'^ from 
the animal organisation in thought, it is surely capable of being 
distinguished from it in words. Our author, however, having 
made the opposite assumption^ goes on with it as follows : 

*^ MiKD, as conjoined with an animal organisation, is that which lives 
not merely as vegetable structures live, but more than this, for it is 
related to the outer world by organs of sensation ; it moves and moves 
from place to place by an impulse originating within itself : and it has 
also a consciousness more or less distinct of its own existence ; that is 
to say, it possesses, in a greater or less degree, a reflective life, and it 
is capable of enjoyment and suffering. 

Thb Wobld of Mind comprehends all orders of beings that ex- 
hibit those conditions of life which we here specify." 

In a later part of his work, Mr. Taylor endeavours to ascertain 
what is the ''prime characteristic of Mind, and its first rudi- 
ment;''* and determines what it is "in its essence,"t "its own 
nature — itself. ^^X We shall have occasion afterwards to remark 
on this portion of his speculations. We refer to it now only be- 
cause we are unable to reconcile it with the language of the de- 
scriptive statement already quoted, and with Mr. Taylor's apology 
for the absence of a definition. 

His subject is distributed under the three heads of Psychology, 
Metaphysics, and Logic, of which only the first two are treated of 
in the volume before us ; Psychology, as it appears to us, with 
much greater success than Metaphysics. A reader whose concep- 
tion of metaphysical science should be gathered exclusively fipom 
Mr. Taylor's book, would scarcely attain a more accurate notion of 
its real character and object than that it deals with abstractions 
and leads to scepticism. Mr. Taylor distinguishes it from psy- 
chology by the remark, that "the terms space, time, cause, and 
effect, belong to this department^ ' (metaphysics). But they be- 
long just as much to psychology. It is not in their subject-matter^ 
but in their mode of viewing the same subject-matter, that these 
sciences differ. Let us take, for example, the notions to which 
Mr. Taylor refers as exclusively metaphysical. 

They are facts of consciousness. LUee all other phenomena, 

• p. Ul. t P- 176. X p. 175. 

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The World of Mind. 177 

fhey can be submitted ta the processes, and treated according to 
the laws, of inductive inquiry. And it is the business of psy- 
chology^ as the positive science of consciousness^ to do this — to 
find out their contents^ to trace their origin and development^ to 
assign them their proper place in the scheme of mind. But 
though in the mind they refer, as we are constrained to believe^ 
to realities existinj^ without it. Is then this belief trustworthy, 
this reference real? Are the conceptions which the words tptLce^ 
time, and eubstance suggest to us mere figments of the under- 
standing; or do they correspond to, and represent, independent 
existences ? To answer these questions, to bridge over the chasm 
which separates thought from things, the subjective frcMia ^e ob- 
jective, is the business oi metaphysics. 

From these considerations, it is obvious that the proper place 
of metaphysical science, as dependent on the results of psychology, 
is posterior to the latter. The goal of the one is the otiier's start- 
ing-point. In treating of it, first, Mr. Taylor sacrifices logical fit- 
ness to considerations of convenience. He is evidently anxious 
to get rid as soon as possible of an uncongenial topic, to hurry 
past ^' abysses'^ into which it is dizsiness to look. Metaj^ysics 
and '^ mystification^^ seem to him one and the same thing. His 
looting is not sure, nor his eye clear, till he gets fairly to the 
region of concrete phenomena. We pass over some remariis, 
whichi seem to us fieur firom sound, on the relation which physical, 
mathematical, and metaphysical seienee bear respectively to the 
plulosophy of mind, as having been ak^eady partiy answered in 
atttieipation. Metaphysics being defined as the science of '^ ab- 
stractions,'' the abstractions with which it deals are classified as 
either "ultimate,'^ "mixed,'' or " concretive." Under the first 
head, the notions of apace, time, and substance, are discussed. 
"We will briefly consider the conception of space; the origin 
and natulre of which are thus set forth. On the presentation 
of a sphere to the observer, he learns by the sense of touch that 
it is solid and hard. By the exercise of abstraction, its sensible 
properties, — its colour, taste, and so on, — are one by one dis- 
missed, till tliere remain only its solidity and its spherical shape. 
Its form, last of all, is discarded ftom thought. AU that is now 
left is a vague notion ; whidl we fail to realise to the mind, but 
which we seek to hold £&st by means of the phrase solid extension. 
Having got safely tibus far, our author proceeds : 

** Solid extension — ^let us say that of the sphere — ^may be conceived 
fis extending itself further and further, until it fills a j^Umetary orbit, or 
until it embraces the starry universe ; and it may go even beyond this 

timit At any one stage of its progress, what should forbid 

its advancing one other stage ; and then why miay it not do the like 
again ? This supposition of an endless progress or movement onward, 


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178 The fVorld of Mind. 

though we fail to follow it conceptivelj, compacts itself into an abstract 
no ion for which we require a name ; — and we call it the Infinite, or 

But an event of another kind may be imagined as possible. In 
trutii, it is an event which obtrudes itself upon our thoughts ; and whidi, 
when once it has occurred, we find it impossible to dismiss entirely. 
The solid sphere which just now I had before me, and which I felt and 
saw, may not only disappecwy or cease to be felt and seen, but it may 
have ceased to he. We may imagine this, at least ; not that it has flown 
off, and so might be overtaken somewhere, but we may suppose that 
it is not. What is there, then, where it was, but where now it is not ? 
The answer may be. Nothing ; for I may imagine the atmosphere and 
every gas removed firom where it was. But the woW * nothing,' if it be 
taken in its simple sense, does not quite satisfy the mind. The anni- 
hilated sphere has left a sort of residual meaning in its place, or a 
shaddw of reality, which asks a name. This remainder of meaning is 
symbolised or represented by the word spacb ; and when we have ac- 
cepted it, we feel as if an intellectual necessity had been supplied. 

To the bare notion which the word ' space* enables us to retain some 
sort of hold of, we render back a portion of the properties of solid ex* 
tension ; and on this foundation bmid the most certain of the sciences. 
Thus we allow ourselves to think (or to speak, if not to think) of space 
as divisible into parts, and as susceptible of measurement ; and also as 
capable of endless progression outwards from a centre. In this way we 
come to speak of infinite space. Here, then, is an abstract notion, 
from which I have removed all sensible properties, — nay, all properties, 
whether sensible or only conceivable, — and yet I am not content to call 
it — nothing ; nor can I rid myself oi it : it is like to nothing ; it cKngs 
to my consciousness ; it is or has become to me a law of my intellectual 
existence. I cannot think of myself or of any other existence otherwise 
than as occupying space. 

Beyond this limit, and in this direction, no human mind has hitherto 
made any progress, or has shown us how we may analyse the notion 
represented by the word ' space.' The analytic faculty has at length 
fully done its office; and the result is an ultimate abstraction" ((^. 

Those who admit the justice of Mr. Taylor's previons reason- 
ing, may perhaps -011 good grounds demur to this last assertion ; 
and allowing space to be an abstraction, deny that it is an ultu 
mate abstraction. We Ao not conceive it as simple, but as trinal 
extension^ — extension, that is, in the three coexistent modes of 
length, breadth, and thickness, any one of which we may abstract 
and consider apart from the rest. This, in fact, is done in the 
diflTerent branches of geometry, where a line is defined to be 
length without breadth; a superficies, length and breadth without 
depth, and so on. We have no intention of allowing ourselves 
to be betrayed into any discussion of the unending question, 
whether space is an d-priori form of thought, or an d-posteriori 

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The World of Mind. 179 

datum of experience, or both the one and the other; our present 
business is to criticise Mr. Taylor's book ; and we confine our- 
selves to the examination of his doctrine, which appears open 
to many unanswerable objections. In almost every word of his 
statement the previotts eanatence of the notion, which he strives 
to show us in the process of formation, is implied. We begin 
with imagining a solid body. But what do we mean by " a solid 
body^' ? What is a solidity but the property of occupying space? 
We can give no other definition; we have no other idea of it 
than this. We are told to fancy solid extension spreading itself 
out beyond the limits of the stellar imiverse, "without end and 
for ever;" and that then, by abstraction of the solidity from this 
conception, we shall come to the idea of space as infinite. But in- 
finite ewpansion cannot take place, or be thought of as occurring, 
except in infinite space. The one idea, so far from being derived 
from the other, is logically prior to it, its necessary condition. 

Mr. Taylor does not attempt to explain how it is that an 
abstract notion, without "properties sensible or conceivable,'' 
which is " like to nothing,'' and which he yet cannot make up 
his mind to " call nothing," should " ding to his consciousness," 
and become a " law of his intellectual existence." He is lost in 
wonder at the fact ; but he makes no eflfort to account for it If 
space be an abstraction, it ought to resemble other abstractions. 
We can abstract from red bodies, for example, their property of 
redness; but if we imagine all red bodies to be destroyed, we do 
not attribute to the quality of redness even any remaining " sha- 
dow of reality," any independent existence. If all men die, A«- 
manity dies with them. How is it, then, that after having anni- 
hilated in thought all extended matter, extension remains behind ? 
We have emptied space, and not destroyed it ; we cannot think 
it away. Why the character of " intellectual necessity" which, 
Mr. Taylor admits, attaches to this notion, and to those of time 
imd substance, should not be found in the case of all other ab- 
stractions, neither his nor any other merely empirical theory 
makes any iqiproach to explaining. 

In the section on "Mixed Abstractions," our author dis- 
cusses the notion represented by the yrovA power y which he refers 
to the mind's consciousness of a self-determining force within 
itself, and from which he traces the origin of our ideas of causa^ 
tion, liberty, necessity, freedom of the mil, &c. If we find little 
that is strictly speaking new here, we find much that is true, and 
stated with remarkable discrimination and eloquence, and with 
great ingenuity of illustration. The author, in his vindication of 
human freedom, throws himself confidently on those primal in- 
tuitions which, if they do not admit of logical proof, are yet 
superior to logical disproof, and can never be permanently kejptt 

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180 The World of Mind. 

in abeyance. Of this part of his work we have only assent and 
admiration to express^ which we regret that the space at our dis- 
posal does not enable us to justify by copious extract. We make 
room instead for a passage which brings us on a step further^ 
introducing us to the field of what Mr. Taylor calls concretivb 


<< In the exercise of this same faculty of abstradioii^ we may either, 
as in the vanous instances already mentioned, employ ourselves in set- 
ting off from some complex notion, one by one, its several constituenta^ 
until we arrive at thc^ which admits of no further separation ; or 
otherwise, we may take up an abstract idea or a principle, whether it 
be of the simplest order or not, and then look ahout for the same idea 
or principle as it is to be met with elsewhere, embodied imder very dif- 
ferent conditions, and combined with other elements. 

Instances of this kind meet us at every step throughout the circle 
of the physical sciences : in truth, such instances constitute the staple 
of these sciences ; and they are so abundant, that they need not be 
mentioned otherwise than briefly in ilhistration of what we now intend. 
The ' kws of nature,' as they are called, are^ as to our mode of con- 
ceiving them, certain abstract notions, which we recognise as we find 
them taking effect in a multitude of diversified instances. 

Newton 9 falling apple suggested to him a ^ law,' which he per- 
ceived to take effect in determining the revolution of the moon in her 
orbit, and then again to prevail throughout the planetary system. 
When the ascent of water under a vacuum came to be truly under- 
stood, the rise of mercury in a tube, under the same conditions, was 
seen to be an instance explicable by means of the same law ; and then 
the heights respectively to which the two fluids will rise in vcbcuo 
were found to correspond to the specific gravity of the two as weighed 
against the terrestrial atmosphere, thus confirming the principle that 
had been assumed. Those innumerable analogies which are found to 
prevail between vegetable and animal organisations, are instances of 
the same kind ; as, for example, the several processes of nutrition, ex- 
cretion, respiration, secretion, are found to be, to a oertoMi ttoten^ 
identical in principle; that is to say, a Uw which, as we apprehend it, 
is not a reality any where existing, but is a pure abstraction, is recog- 
nised in this, in that, an many instances, which at the first view of them 
differ in many respects ; and they so differ, that it is with an emotion, 
first of surprise, and then of pleasure, that we catch the identity which 
has been concealed, as we might say, hitherto within the folds of many 
exterior diversities. 

Abstractions of this kind may properly be called coircRETrvB, be- 
cause their tendency is to gather around themselves other adjuncts than 
those, with which they may at first have presented themselves to our 

In those departments of scienee which are observational and expe- 
rimental, we find what we are seeking for. In those which are inventive 
ajni constructive, we make what we are seekipg for. In chemistry, for 

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The World of Mind. 181 

example, we find the laws of definite proportions in the combination of 
elements. In mechanics, when its principles are apprehended^ we 
create the applications of them in such forms as maj suit our purpose" 
(pp. 54-57). 

The substance of these remarks applies with no less force to 
the recognition and discrimination of mora/ qualities^ under their 
▼arioas mamfestations and disguises in actual life^ and to their 
versatile embodiment in the several poetic arts^ than to the in- 
stances jufit cited. When the fundamental idea which animates 
any work is once apprehended^ the value of its several parts is 
tested by their bearing upon this idea, by the degree in which 
they contribute to carry out and convey it In this criticism of 
means in their relation to an end, of single conceptions in re- 
spect of a lai^er design that includes them, " the sense of fitness 
and order'' takes its rise. It is satisfied by simple sufficiency; 
it is wounded alike by defeat and redundance. Exertions which 
go beyond, and exertions which fail to reach, their aim equally 
shock it. It is in it that our author finds an escape from the 
perplexities and scepticisms which follow on too mnch metaphy- 
sics, and attains "grounds of certainty,*' — a sure pathway of 
transition to the highest and most gniduig truths of morals and 
religion. " The very structure of the mind,*' he maintains, com- 
pels it " to accept as true and real that which bears upon itself 
the characteristics of coherence, congruity, fitness, order.'' This 
principle, which in another work — The Restoration ^Belief — 
Mr. Taylor had ingeniouidy applied to the confirmation of the his- 
torical evidences of Christianity, is here maide ihe basis of a pure 
moral thecAogy, In barest outline, his argument may be stated 
thus. We shall use, where we can incorporate them, the author's 
own words. " The sense of fitness and order may be disturbed 
as well by a redundancy in any oi^nism as by a deficiency. If 
there be a wheel in a machine which has no duty to perform, 
or if a wheel be wanting at any point on the pathway of motion, 
we disallow the unity of the wh(^e" (p. 91). On the supposition 
that man is not a fi-ee agent, — the master of his own sentiments 
and conduct, but on the contrary subject to thode laws of phy- 
sical causation which rule in the material World, — conscience, 
the moral sense, though toi essential part of his nature, has no 
function in it. It bids him do this, and refirain from that ; though 
he has no power to determine what hfe shall do, being himself 
absolntdy disposed of by laws as inviolaUe as those which keep 
the earth in her orbit, and provide that summer and winter, seed- 
time and harvest, shall not fisil. Any theory which fails to re- 
Cognise man's moral freedom converts his nsture into an inco- 
herent delusion, to which we find nothing analogous in the other 
arrangements of the universe. Admit, however, human free 

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182 The World of Mind. 

agency, and this incongruity vanishes. Conscience ceases to be 
" a redundant endowment/* 

" Now," says our author, " the moral sense leads us directly to 
the conception, however vague, of an authority to which we are re- 
lated The idea of ah authority beyond and above us conjoins 

itself with the conception of a Power, and of a purpose too, to vin- 
dicate itself, whether immediately or at some future time. It is this 
set of notions which gives coherence to the moral sense. Without- 
them, no aspect of fitness presents itself on this side of human nature. 

The idea of aaihoriiy or of a relationship between two 

beings — each endowed with intelligence and moral feeling — supposes 
that the will of the one who is the more powerful of the two has been 
in some way declared. It also demands an independence of some kind 
in the other nature, intervening between the one will and the other 
will. Where the relationship of law, not as a physical principle, but 
as a rule and motive is brought in, there we must find a break — an in- 
terval, — and a reciprocal counteraction A scheme of government 

taking its bearing upon the moral sense is not a chain along which 
sequences follow in a constant order ; but it is — a standing on the one 
side and a standing on the other side, with a clear distance inteq)06ed. 
If we take fewer elements than these as the ground of moral govern- 
ment, the entire vocabulary of morals — popular and scientific — loses 
its significance." 

From all this the conclusion is drawn, that 
^' a system of government has no completeness or reason, it exhibits 
no fitness or order, until we recognise its source in the sovebeion 


This brief abstract conveys no adequate idea of the telling 
argument of which it is a summary. The two sections in which 
it is developed, on "the Sense of Fitness and Order,^' and " the 
Grounds of Certainty/' are models of moral reasoning; and the 
thoughtful and sober eloquence of the style is in perfect keeping 
with the character of the subjects. At the same time, we are 
not able to assent without qualification to all that is advanced, 
even in the passage we have quoted, if we are strictly to inter- 
pret its every word. If we are to understand by the Moral Sense 
a conviction of the inefiPaceable distinction between right and 
wrong, and of the intrinsic obligation of rectitude, we must de* 
mur to the assertion that — if tiSten absolutely alone, and sepa- 
rated from the framework oi actual human experience — it neces- 
sarily " indicates that which is above itself and beyond itself,'^ 
or " leads directly to the conception of an authority," to which 
the mind experiencing it is subject. For such a moral sense we 
must attribute to God himself. And this Mr. Taylor, we pre- 
sume, intends to do when he speaks of the Divine Being and 
man as "each endowed with intelligence and moral feeling/' — 
or else he is using the same phrase in the same connection in a 

Digitized by 


^ fForld of Mitid. 188 

different signification in the two cases. Then^ on his principle^ 
the search after a paramount moral Governor of the Universe 
would become as futile as the quest of natural theology after a 
First Cause, — the "moral feeling'* of each being indicating an 
authority above it, and so on for ever ; just as in the parallel in- 
stance, what we call the " First Cause'* logically demands a prior, 
quite is much as any of those earlier in the series. It is not (we 
may venture to suggest) the mere discrimination of right and 
wrong, and of the supreme claim over us of the former, which 
leads us to consider ourselves subjects of a higher power. For 
— ^if we attribute moral qualities to God at all, and without them 
He can scarcely be a moral ruler — ^that discrimination must exist 
in Him far more perfectly than in ourselves. By the special ex- 
perience of human nature, we should rather think, and not by 
any intellectual necessity, this feeling of subjection to a divine 
authority comes in with the consciousness of defective moral 
power, and violated obligation, and expresses itself in trust, re- 
morse, and the instinctive fear of retribution. Again, it rather 
jars with the lofty and ethical tone of the rest of the argument, 
to read that " the idea of authority, or of a relationship be- 
tween two beings, each endowed with intelligence and moral 
feeling, supposes that the tvUl of the one who is the more power- 
ful 0/ the two has been in some way declared/* Moral autho- 
rity is the ascendency of the better, as such ; and not of the 
"more powerful.** It does not depend on relative degrees of 
strength. It is not as the All-mighty, but as the AU-good, that 
the Divine Being has authority over the free souls of His chil- 
dren. Indeed, "this independence,** which Mr. Taylor insists 
upon as "intervening between one will and the other will,*' of 
itself implies this. 'Hxe points to which we have taken exception 
may be mere oversights, simply flaws of statement. Their re- 
moval would strengthen, as their presence tends to invalidate, an 
argument in which they have place, by contradicting its essen- 
tial spirit. 

Having led us to this crowning truth, in which metaphysics 
passes into theology, Mr. Taylor brings to a dose the first divi- 
sion of his work, and enters upon the science of mind properly 
so called. In a few pithy and pointed pages, he distinguishes 
its sphere from that of animal physiology, and illustrates the 
impossibility of solving mental problems by reference to physical 
conditions. The (animated) "world, as known to the ancients,** 
is there eloquently contrasted with the conception of it which 
the revelations of the microscope on the one hand, and the dis- 
coveries of geology upon the other, force on the cultivated mo- 
dem intelligence. They compel us to take into account, and 
recognise our partnership with, the creatures around us. We 

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184 T%e World of Mind. 

do not share in that feeling of annoyance which the contempla- 
tion of human affinity with other orders of animal beings eeems 
to awaken in many minds that we should have thought superior 
to such emotion. We entirely sympathise witih Mr. Taylor's 
rebuke and exposure of it. It is simply on the ground of irre^ 
levance to the topic he is discussing, when correctiy viewed^ and 
of special unfitness for the purposes of an elementary treatise, 
that we have felt constrained to protest against the indusicm of 
matters remote from consciousness within the Hmits of a disaer- 
•tation on a subject known to us exclusivdy through consdous- 
ness. We therefore decline to be ddayed by the hazy and 
eloquent passage, in which he aims to " look abroad upon the 
field of animal life away from that point of view from which it im 
only seen in contrast with tiie more highly developed fiocultiea of 
the human species ;-^to tiiink of it in its absidute quality, or 
such as it is; or sudi as it would seem to be, if we could take a 
positive fear out of humanity .'' All that is said in this con- 
nection may be very true ; but it cannot be proved to be so. 
Alike in what is affirmed and what is denied of the prerogatiTes 
of the lower animal races, we feel the want of vmfication. It is 
simple conjecture, more or less plausible. The degree in which 
the difierent orders of animated being are snsoeptiUe of pleasure 
from colour and sound, — wheth^ thi» pleasure ev^ amounts to 
a perception of beauty and an ear for music,-<-how far their 
moral and afiectional emotions rise above the level of instiJict, 
and fall below that characteristic of human nature, — ^the sources 
and extent of the happiness they enjoy, and its disturbances, — all 
these are questions which we are never likely to have any dmta 
for solving satisfactorily. They resemble the speculatioiis of 
savans as to the plurality of worlds. They are interesting and 
ingenious, but they settle nothing. At any rate, they are out of 
place where we find them. 

More legitimate axe our author^s speculations as to the primal 
rudiment of mind, which he determines to be Power; or, as he 
oddly phrases it, Mind-in-Qct toward matter. He is led to this 
conclusion by two separate, but, as he thinks, converging lines of 
argument. Taking the chronological path, he borrows from the 
animal physiologist the fact, that muscular movement takes place 
in the embryo " long before the animal has conversed with the 
outer world, by the eye, or the ear, or other senses ;'' that it 
therefore ''precedes sensation, unless it be some undefined ccm* 
sciousness that is earlier dated than parturition.^' 

From the nature of the case, however, the eiitemal observer 
can have no cognisance of sensation in the embryo before partu* 
rition. We attribute sensation to other beings than ourselves 
only by noting in them muscular motions which suggest it, and 

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The World of Mind. 185 

whicli^ as we remember^ have followed upon a particular feelmg 
in ourselves. Action must be the first phenomenon observed by 
us in an organisation foreign to ourseltres ; but that it is the first 
phenomenon occurring in tiiat organisation^ it is altogether gra- 
tuitous to assume. Mr. Taylor's physiological fact is worth no- 
thing. In admitting the possibility of " some undefined con- 
sdousness^' earlier than the first movement of the embryo^ he 
defMrives it of all its significance. Indeed^ we can hardly con- 
ceive power, i,e. mind in act towards matter, except as the 
result of some prior condition, as the outcomes of feeling, or 
as the deliberate aim at a preconceived end, without fiJling into 
sheer casualism. In the one case we assign precedence in time 
to thought, in the otiier to sensatiofL It is not difficult to make 
our choice between these two in the instances under examina- 
tion. Mr. Taylor's anxiety to vindicate a real causative power 
in man has led him into assumptions which cannot be main- 
tained, and which moreover are not essential for his purpose. 
Indeed, we cannot reconcile the doctrine on which we are re- 
marking with his admission towards the end of the volume, that 
the '^ inherent f(»rce,'' which he attributes to mind, requires to 
''be put in movement yrom without. An admirable mechanism 
is before us; but it is at rest, and will for ever remain at rest, 
unless a finger — a force foreign to itself — give the start to the 
pendulum" (p. 894). 

The second method of arriving at the '' rudimental in the oon- 
stitution of things," — i.e. power, — is by the path of analysis, in 
which case the simplest element must be considered as primal. 
Here we are led to the same conclusion as before. '' Sensation," 
it is alleged, '' is composite : it is the product of two or more (?) 
forces from without, acting upon an oi^nisation that is compli- 
cated in its structure.^^ The complication, however, of the or- 
ganic frame is quite irrelevant to the matter in hand. Volition, 
as well as sensation, takes effect through a complex structure of 
nerves and muscles ; and if this fact does not deprive it of its 
simplicity, neither does it interfere with that of s^isation. In 
the same way, the number of forces which act upon the organi- 
sation from without is quite beside the question. The sub- 
jective character, and not the external conditions of sensation, 
are what we have to deal with. " There are five, six, or more 
kinds of sensation," we are told ; '' and when these are compared, 
any one of them with any other, or when, in turn, we compare 
one with all the others, we find room for distinctions and descrip- 
tive statements." There are of course distinctions which we 
feel, but which in many cases do not admit of being put into 
woiils. It would be impossible to explain to the blmd man 
mentioned by Locke, who thought that the colour of scarlet was 

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186 The World of Mind. 

like the sound of a trumpet, or to a seeing man either, "who 
makes no such mistake, in what they differ. Sensation is, it is 
true, of many kinds ; but individual sensations may be, and often 
are, uncompounded. We are not able to assent, therefore, to 
our author's conclusion, from the premises which we have given, 
that '^in sensation more is implied than a single and simple ru* 
diment/^ Sensibility to impressions from without, and an ori- 
ginating power within, are endowments neither of which can be 
analyst into any thing more elementary, and which manifest 
themselves together. In granting an independent and underived 
power to the will, all is conceded that an accurate pyschology 
will allow, or that — though this is a consideration not scienti- 
fically admissible— the moralist can require. In this section, 
the author discusses, in the briefest form^ the origin of our idea 
of externality, the process by which sensations are transformed 
into perceptions, the gradual development of the personal con- 
sciousness, and other moot-points of pyschological inquiry. He 
passes over these subjects with so light and quick a hand, that it 
is not eaay always to say precisely what his doctrine is ; but, if we 
make allowance for an occasional want of precision in language^ 
it seems to coincide in its main features with the views laid down 
in their clearest form in Sir William Hamilton's writings. 

The point at which the human mind begins to diverge from 
the brute, is the entrance of a distinct feeling of individuality — 
a consciousness of personal identity, and with this of moral free- 
dom. In childhood, *' the mind itself, or, if we choose to say so^ 
its active rudiment, is much in advance,^' Mr. Taylor urges, *' of 
the appetites, wants, desires, of the animal nature. Man^ at 
this spring-time^ has very much more of a vague impulse to act 

than of any definite motive for acting It is now that he 

is learning to take his position as possessor of a freedom apart 
from which there could neither be intellectual expansion nor 
moral progress.^^ 


'' In the absence, or during the abeyance, of powerful animal influ- 
ences, and while there is a large suggestive fond of ever-shifting imagi- 
nations — as the incitements of volition, and an exuberance of energy 
which must be spent — ^the human mind is coming into the use of its in- 
herent liberty; it b tasting the enjoyment of its birthright — its sove- 
reignty in relation to motives of all kinds. Among Siese motives, 
whether they be stronger or weaker in themselves, it takes its sport, 
refusing to be enthralled by any, and spuming every despotism : ^ it is 
learning to be free.' " 

It is impossible to sound the depths of the problems here 
started. But we confess that the presence " of a vague impulse 
to act,'' and the absence, or &int urgency^ " of the appetites, 

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The World of Mind. 187 

wants, desires^ of tlie animal nature/' do not seem to ns the con- 
ditions of freedom, unless we are to say that the feather, blown 
lightly hither and thither by every stirring of the air, is freei* 
than the stone which faUs, at once and without deflection, earth- 
wards. The state which Mr. Taylor describes is one of anarchy 
rather than of incipient liberty. It is only in the presence of 
" definite motives for acting,'^ — in the choice l)etween two or 
more determinate courses, — that we become conscious of a self- 
directing power superior to the solicitations of circumstances, 
and learn to discipline ourselves to its exercise. Indeed, it is 
significant that we always think and speak of the freedom of the 
will as moral liberty. Until considerations of right and wrong 
enter, we are not conscious of its possession ; tiQ then, the most 
pleasurable sensation or the most powerful impulse has undisputed 
mastery over us. There is no question of an alternative. When, 
however, this is discerned to be right, and tJtat wrong, — ^when 
what is pleasurable is forbidden, and that from which we shrink 
ui^d upon us, by a mysterious voice, which yet only enjoins 
and does not constrain, — we become aware that it is in our power 
to obey or to disobey. In the first conflict between natural de- 
sire and the moral sense, human nature at once learns and vin- 
dicates its freedom. It is raised from the level of a conscious 
thing to that of a, person, and enters upon the prerogatives which, 
so far as we know, mark it off from all other orders of animal 
being. We regret that we cannot follow Mr. Taylor as he traces 
the various features and achievements of human nature, in its 
highest development, to its possession of the spontaneous, unde- 
rived, and self-directing power of the will, acting upon the im- 
pressions communicated from the outer world. It would require 
an essay as long as his own to discuss them worthily: and to re- 
produce the ideas of another in any other words than those in 
which he has thought out and embodied them, and deprived of 
the illustrations which give them vitality, is to do them injustice. 
The postulates, we may briefly state, on which he bases his phi- 
losophy of mind, are (1), the independent and real existence of 
the outer world; (2) the genuine causative power of the will; 
and (3) the assumption, '^ that in the original structure of the 
mind there is nothing fallacious, nothing contrary to the reality 
of things, nothing that is spurious or factitious, and which, when 
we come to be better informed, we shall reject or denounce as 
a disguise of which the human race, or the uninstructed many, 
is doomed to be always the dupe and victim .'' These principles 
command our fullest acceptance. To the first of them Mr. Tay- 
lor is scarcely faithful, at least in some of his expressions. His 
language often slides into that of '^ cosmothetic idealism.'' He 
speaks of our ^^ notions," our ^^ conceptions," of an outer world, 

Digitized by VjOOQIC_ 

188 Mr. Coventry Patmore?» Poems. 

as if we had not a direct apprehension^ but only a mental repre- 
sentation of it : and his doctrine of space as an abstraction im* 
plies the same thing. It is strange^ that aft» the researches 
and criticisms of Sir William Hamilton^ this ambigaitv should 
charactmse the language of well-informed writers^ who certainly 
in substance and in spirit adhere to the doctrines of ''natural 
realism/' The use which is made of the second postulate as the 
basis of morals and theology^ so far as their speculative founda- 
tion is concerned^ has already been seen. The third (which, 
properly speakings indudes the fonner two) is applied to l^e 
refutation of the selfish and utilitarian theories of the social emo- 
tions, and to the determination of man's relations to the xm- 
known and infinite. This enumeration presents but a few of the 
topics discussed. In dwelling as we have done on the small 
points of difference which divide us firom the author, we have 
principally had regard to the claims of his work as '' an elemen- 
tary book.'' We have, therefore, animadverted principally on 
those portions of it which seemed to us likely to lead to miscon- 
ception on the part of those nsing it as an introduction to men- 
tal science. But in quitting it, we desire to exjaress our convic- 
tion that, if not precisely fitted to answer the purpose intended, 
it will discharge a function yet more important. Within the 
same bulk, we know of no work on tiie higher philosophy abound- 
ing more in veracious, subtle, and suggestive thought, clothed in 
a style* which, if occasionally somewhat too elaborate and in^ 
volved, wanting in simplicity and directness, yet well reflects the 
finer and more delicate shades of the meaning it conveys* 


The Angel in the Borise: Book I. The Betrothal. Book II. The 
Espousals. By Coventry Patmoi-e. Second Edition. London: J. 
W. Parker and Son, 1867. 

Tamerton Church-Umery and other Poems. By Coventry Patmore. 
London: J. W. Parker and Son, 1857; 

It is impossible to imagine any works, admitting of comparison 
at all, more remarkably contrasted than those of Mr. Alexander 
Smith, reviewed in our last Number, and those of Mr. Coventry 
Patmore, which we propose briefly to notice in this. .They differ 
not only in merit, but in all those qualities which leave the 
question of merit undetermined. They are each the other's 
antithesis. What Mr. Smith is, that Mr. Patmore emphatically 
is not. Inferior in command of words, in richness of imagery, 

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Mr, Coventry Patmare^s Poem9. 189 

in the music of his rhythmSy in all, in fact, that constitutes the 
mere vesture of poetry, to the author of the Ltfe Drama and the 
City Poems, Mr. Patmore is infinitely superior to him in all that 
is essential. His fancies are not, like Mr. SmitVs, and the 
earth, ^^upon nothing hung/' He has thoughts to express, a 
definite meaning to convey, often subtle and suggestive, and 
sometimes deep and true. And his language is transparent to 
his thought. It fits, it closely, like hand and glove. It is free 
firom all meretricious ornament. Simplicity is its characteristic. 
His muse is not clad in a coat of many colours, but '^ whit^ 
robed and pure.'' 

Nor does he differ more firom Mr. Smith, and the spasmodic 
school generally, in the characteristics we have named than in 
his views of art and of human life. With genuine^ poetic gifts, 
he has improved them by sedulous culture and study. He is 
not eaten up with an ambition to produce a poem which shall 
'' make pale the bra^art cheek of the world,'' nor a victim of 
the delusion that such a poem can be produced ^^ at a dash." 
His aim is rather to ^^ instruct and warn." He feels that a 
worthy muse sBould be employed upon some worthy subject. 
The poets of the spasmodic school appear to think that the 
greatness of their powers will be best shown in contrast with the 
meanness of the topic on which they emjdoy them ; just as the 
alchemist's triumph would be the greater, the baser the metal 
whidi he converted into gold. And. if self-^display is their object, 
they may be right. Mr. Patmore has. expressed a different doc- 
trine in the following lines, which stand near the comm^oMiement 
of his last poem, and embody its distinguishing tone and spirit : 

** How vilely 'twere to misdeserve 

The poet's gift of perfect speech. 
In aonff to tiy, wiib tremhliug necve^ 

The limit of its utmost reaSi, 
Only to sound the wretched praise 

Of what to-morrow shall not bci 
So mookisig with immortal bays 

The cross-bones of mortality ! 
I do not thus* My faith is fiwi 

That all the loveliness I sing 
Is made to bear the mortal blast, 

And blossom in a better Spring. 
My creed declares the ceaseless pact 

Of body and spirit^ soul and sense; 
Nor can my fiedth accept the fitot, 

And disavow the consequence.'* 

We have said that, his views of human life aie in contrast 
with those of the spasmodic school. In Mr. DobeU^s Balder, 
the hero, — ^who, so &r as serious intention can be ascribed to the 
author at all, is evidently designed to be the type of poetic 

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190 Mti Coventry Patmonfs Poems. 

genius^ — ^is anxious to enrich himself with a varied and Goethe- 
like experience of human nature. He is desirous of tastii^ 

" All thoughts, all passions, all desires, ^ 
Whatever thrills this moriad frame/* 

But to do this, it is necessary that he should know what remors^ 
is. Therefore, to gratify himself with that sensation, he kills his 
innocent wife and (we believe) her infant child. And all this 
in the interests of high art. Mr. Patmore's conceptions of the 
moral discipline of the poet are very diflferent. He should be 
''girt with thought and prayer '' for his task. To him "strong 
passions mean weak will ;^' while 

'' He safest walks in darkest ways 
Whose youth is lighted from above." 

Like those of most young poets, his earlier prod actions were 
of a somewhat dolorous cast. His heroes were sadly unfor- 
tunate, mostly in their love affairs. But there is nothing of the 
''curse Qod and die^^ style of sentiment, which seems to be 
considered natural and impressive under such circumstances. 
On the contrary, the one lesson is variously enfbrced : 

*' Best fruits come not of sunniest years ; 
Good use have griefs; they try 
The sacred faculty of tears, 
And man with mea ally.'* 

We are aware that it is asserted by many that the poet has 
nothing to do with moral considerations ; that art cannot have 
an ethical purpose without forfeiting its own proper character. 
And examples enough can be quoted of great poems — though not 
the greatest — which seem to show that the two are not neces- 
sarily connected; that views of life little pure and elevated 
are compatible with the loftiest imaginative genius. On the 
other hand, the proof is yet more abundant that the most excel- 
lent morality may be embodied in very wretched verse. But, of 
course, if the essence of poetry is truth, the more and the deeper 
the truth it teaches, the higher, other things being equal, will be 
the poetry. The moralist starts from certain principles and con- 
victions, and looks about him for the means of most powerfully 
enforcing them. The poet is possessed with a conception, the 
ideal of a character, the picture of a scene, the grouping and 
mutual action of various connected circumstances and persons. 
He will be able to embody them with most effect in proportion 
as he sees all the relations that are involved in them, and can 
make the visible symbolise the invisible. And as there are few 
things which do not involve ethical considerations, or considera- 
tions still higher, so there are few topics to which such consi- 
derations will be foreign. Only they should appear as. a part of 

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Mr. Coventry Patmore^s Poem$. 191 

ihe work, involved in its completeness, and not as an inference 
syllogistically deducible from it. They should shape and inform 
it like a pervading spirit, rather than enter any separate appear- 
ance for themselves. Mr. Patmore is far fi-om being a didactic 
poet, — a phrase which involves a combination of ideas that we 
find difficult to realise at all ; but pnre and high aims and con- 
victions breathe through all he writes. 

The ^^ spasmodic school'^ is so widely and deeply influencing 
our contemporary literature, that Mr. Patmore's freedom from its 
characteristic vices is worthy of distinct record and commenda- 
tion. Of living writers, if we except Carlyle, none has impressed 
himself so powerfully on the age as Tennyson. His genius and 
spirit, if they have not yet sunk down into the lower strata of 
society, have been absorbed into, and have thoroughly inter- 
penetrated — or, perhaps, rather have expressed and consciously 
represented — ^the mind of all classes parttJiing even the least tinc- 
ture of cultivation. Not only are his minutest peculiarities of 
thought and phrase echoed back upon us from almost every 
volume of verse that issues from the press, but works of the 
highest scholarship and philosophy find in his nobler lines 
the fitting illustration and embodiment of their views. Yet 
Tennyson's latest poem must be pronounced spasmodic. That he 
should have influenced the school so named, is not to be wondered 
at; we may " trace the noble dust of Alexander till we find it 
stopping a bung-hole.'^ But that he should be influenced 1^ 
tfa^n in return, or even seem to have been so, is a phenomenon 
worthy of brief consideration, and not so remote as it may ap- 
pear from the criticism of Mr. Patmore's writings. The origin 
and popularity of the spasmodic school have had their causes, and 
these causes may be discovered. They are the natural result of 
tendencies long working in the English mind. Paradox as it may 
appear, that school is the direct though degenerate ofispring of the 
meditative and philosophical poetry of the last generation; it does 
not trace its lineage through Byron and Shelley, with whom it 
has obvions affinities, but through Wordsworth and Coleridge, 
with whom it seems to have nothing in common. A few words 
may make this clear. 

The more popular, and, in their several ways, not less illustri- 
ous contemporaries of these great poets, — Scott and Crabbe and 
Moore, and the others we have named, — deal with romantic ad- 
venture, with vigorous and pathetic delineation of human action and 
aufiering, with the strong utterances of individual passion or the 
lighter play of fancy, ^ere is scarcely a trace in their writings 
oi thought y technically so called. The universe and its mysterious 
allotments do not press on them as problems needing and de- 
manding solution. They are not ^' full of the riddle of tke pain- 

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192 Mr. Coventry Pattnor^s Poems. 

fdl earth/' Shelley may seem an exception to this remark. Bnt 
he is 80 only in appearance. He did not doubt. There is no trace 
of perplexed hesitancy in him. Definite^ and even fierce, convic- 
tions (negative though they were) underlie all that he wrote. He is 
essentially dogmatic^ — ^the propagandist of a creed into which an 
impulsive nature and untoward circumstances drove him, rather 
than the meditative and open-minded student of nature and of 
life. Almost equally with those whom we have named with him, 
he was a stranger to 

** those obstinaie qneBtionizigB 
Of iSDM and outwaid tliiiigs, 
Fallings from us, vanishings, 
Blank misgivings of a cfeaturo 
Moving zbout in worlds not realised,** 

whieh haunt the poetry of Wordsworth and Coleridge. 

From the conscientious and reverent meditation (rf these trans- 
cendent themes^ a certain amount, at best apaasing and recurring 
shades of scepticism is scarcely separable. And generaDy they 
bring with them a period of desolating doubt of all that it is most 
sacred and esaaitial to believe, under the shadow (^ which nature 
and life lose all their glory and peace. It was Hamlef a soepti- 
dsm which coloured the universe with the mdanchcdy- hues in 
which to his eyes it was clothed. There are few minds which 
have not at some time or oth» seen the expression of their own 
saddeat moods in these well-known words, — " This goodly firamCi 
the earth, seems to me a steril promontory ; this most excellent 
canopy, the air, look you, — ^this brave overhanging, — this majes- 
tical roof firetted with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing 
to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What 
a piece of work is man ! How noble in reason I how infinite in 
fineuKy 1 in form and moving, how express and admirable ! In 
aetion, how like an angel I in qvprehenuon, how like a god ! the 
beauty of the world ! the paragon of animals ! And yet, to me, 
what is this quintessence of dust ? Man delights me not ; no 
nor woman neither.^' In closest connection with this frame of 
mind ace the bursts of passion which urge Hamlet (like a spas- 
modic poet) to 

^'impaGk his heart in words, 
And fidl a-oarsing lika a very dmby 
A scullion j'* 

and the practical ixrescdutien " which debars him from enter- 
prises of great pith and mom^it,^^ and even firom the single dear 
duty, to which a voice from the dead has summoned him. 

Just in the same way, the feverish exaggerations and pettilant 
complaints that make up so large a portion of Mr. Tennyson's 
Maud are a not unnatural (thongh by no means the inevitable) 

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Mr. Coventry Patmor^s Poems. 198 

issue of the lofty and unanswered questionings of In Memoriam. 
Theire is a logicsd as well as a chronological connection between the 
two works. There was, however, an alternative, which we hope 
may be yet realised. It may yet be given to Mr. Tennyson to teach 
us how a shelter may be found from ^^ the doubts, disputes, dis- 
tractions, fears'' to which he has given such impressive utterance, 

'' In the soothing thoughts that spring 
Out of human suffering ; 
In the fEuth that looks through death. 
In years that bring the philosophic mind.'* 

If Mr. Patmore does not solve this problem for us, he abstains 
at least from setting it. Many popular writers, in whom there 
is no trace of any real experience of the perplexities and sorrows 
spoken of, seem to assume them as a prevalent literary fashion — 
as being (what is called in theatrical parlance) ^^ good business,'' 
and affording opportunity for many telling points. From this 
affectation he is altogether free. 

It is a remark of Coleridge's, that all men of genius have what 
he calls a feminine element in their characters. If we have any 
complaint to make of Mr. Patmore, it is that this feminine ele- 
ment is somewhat in excess in him ; or, at any rate, that it is 
not sufficiently balanced by more masculine qualities. He pro- 
scribes war, — ''hasty, home-destroying war," — as a subject of 
poetry ; and sees in Inkermann and Balaclava only 

*' The courage eorporete that leads 
The coward to heroic death." 

Although it is impossible for any one of refined and cultured 
taste to read The Angel in the House without sincere admiration, 
without recognising in it the hand of a true poet, a correct in- 
stinct tells the author where he wiQ find the fullest echo of his 
own thotights : 

" Praise then my Song where'er it comes. 
Ladies, whose innocence makes bright 
£a»Kland, the land of courtly homes, 
The world's exemplar and delight." 

We do not say this at all in the way of disparagement. Indeed 
Mr. Patmore, with his delicate insight into the relative excel- 
lence of the sexes, must consider it as the highest compliment 
that could be paid him. But perhaps his feminine readers are 
too conscious of his non-intellectual estimate of them to accord 
him very fully the praise he asks. 

His muse, like the love it sings, is essentially the ^' nursling of 
civility." The graces and courtesies of a refined English home, 
which are not the less natural in that they are touched by a deli- 
cate art,-**fenced ropnd by decorous ceremonial, — are the themes 

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194 Mr. Coventry Patmor^s Poena. 

on which he delights to dwell. It is one which poetry has beeil 
somewhat shy of touching^ — ^which she has rather proscribed as 
common. Generally^ when she has dealt with it, she has become 
sophisticated and conventional; giving us nothing better thsA 
light vers de soc%4t4, or the briUiant^ satiric^ surfaoe-delineationB 
of Pope and his school. As Crabbe pctured the life of tiie 
poor^ showing us little more than its hard and degrading acces- 
sories; the tragedy of the outer lot ; so writers of this class hare 
never penetrated below the exterior li& of the rich, and have shown 
only the follies and affectations, the jJoiarisaisms and stifling for- 
malities, which mark it. It was a part of Wordsworth's much 
larger mission to reveal to us the r^ poetry of feelings which 
may inspire even 'Hhe poorest poor/' and to bind them to us as 
by the conviction that '^ we have all of us one common heart." 
Mr. Patmore has aimed at something of the same sort iot cer- 
tain aspects of life among the rich and well-endowed. Few will 
deny that the qualities indicated in the following graceful lines 
are fitting subjects of poetry. They possess an intrinsic beauty 
and fetscination, which simply requires to be fairly set forth : 


^ • . • • something that abode endued 

With temple- like repose, an air 
Of life's kind purposes pursaed 

With ord^^ freedom sweet and &ir. 
A tent pitch'd in a world not right 

It seem'd, whose inmates^ ev^rj one. 
On tranquil feces hore the light 

Of duties beautifully done, 
And humbly, though they had few peers, 

Kept their own fiiws, which seem'd to be 
The feir sum of six thousand years' 

Traditions of civility.** 

Where there is this essential dignity and purity of eharacter, 
it gives grace to all the media, commonplace and artificial though 
they be, through which it expresses itself. 

The Angel in the House is the history of a love-suit, from 
its commencement to the wedding. The progress of the passion 
which the authcHr depicts is related with delicacy and spirit, and 
with a subtle insight into the moods and sentiments, the lights 
and shadows, of tihat most sensitive and capricious of human af- 
fections. Mr. Patmore has, what very few of his contemporaries 
appear to possess, a keen eyq for individualities of character, espe- 
cidly of feminine character. His women, though sketched in the 
merest outline, suggested rather than delineated, are living per- 
sonalities. In this respect he differs from, and has the advantage 
over, Tennyson. The Adelines, and Madelines, and Claribels of 
that great poet's earlier effosions are scarcely more real and hu- 

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Jfr. Ooventry Paimare's Poems, 195 

man than the merwoman whom he celebrates in not dissimilar 
strains. The Amy of '^ Lockslej HalP' has no definite personal 
characteristics. But in " Tamerton Church-Tower/' in the " Yew- 
berry," ''The Falcon/' and the ''Woodman^s Daughter/' of our 
author's earlicpr volume, and in the three sisters of The Angel in 
the H(mse, we feel that we have distinct and individual portraits, 
of whose originals we can shape images to ourselves. They Uve 
and moYC ; they are not mere abstractions. 

Interspersed between the several portions of narrative verse, 
which tell the story of the wooing of The Angel in the House, 
— ^prefixed to each section of it, — are short poems which the au- 
thor styles " preludes.** They are indisputably the finest portions 
of the work. The^ bear much the same relation to their more 
happy theme as the mournful lays in In Memoriam do to sor- 
row and the sense of bereavement, painting it in all its changing 
hues and aspects, — at least in all the gentler ones. The au- 
thor touches dften a d«ep truth with a delicacy of touch and 
beauty which it would not be easy to eseel. The brief passages 
which fdUow will partly, and only in part, illttstrate this ; though 
we quote them rather for their brevity than for their superiority 
over many others that might have been chosen : 

" An idle Poet, here aud there, 

Looks round him, but, for all the rest, 
Tho woiid, unfathomably &iv, 

Is duller ^lan a witling's jest* 
Love wakes men, once a life-time eaoh ; 

Thev lift their heavy lids, and look ; 
And, 10, what one sweet page can teach 

They read with jov, then shut the book. 
' And some give thanks, and some blaspheme, 

And most foi^get ; but. either way, 
That aud the Child's unheeded dream 

Is all the light of all their day." 

" Till Eve was brought to Adam, he 

A solitary desert trod,^ 
Thouffh in the great society 

Of Nature, angels, and of Qod. 
If one slight column counterweighs 

The ocean, 'tis the Maker's law. 
Who deems obedience better praise 

Than sacrifice of erring awe.** 

Mr. Patmoie has probably seen in too many homes the un- 
happy effects of a neglect of the wise counsel thus given : 


" Keep your undrest, familiar style 

For strangers, but respect vour friend. 

Her most, whose matrimonial sndle 
Is and asks honour without end. 

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196 Mr. Coventry Patmore^s Poems* 

'Tis found, and needs it must so be, 

That life from love'b allegiance flagSi 
When love forgets hia majesty 

In sloth's unceremonious rags. 
Let love make home a gracious Court ; 

There let the world's rude, hasty ways 
Be fiishion'd to a loftier port. 

And learn to bow and stand at gasie ; 
And let the sweet respective sphere 

Of personal worship there obtain 
Circumference for movine clear, 

None treading on anoUier's tatdn. 
This makes that pleasures do not cloy. 

And dignifies our mortal strife 
With calmness and considerate joy. 

Befitting our immortal life.'* 

It was necessary, in order to preserve the unity of his work, 
that Mr. Patmore should confine himself to the one affection 
whose rise, growth, and progress he set himself to delineate, and 
whose purity and worth he nobly vindicates. Sut the effect of 
the exclusion of all reference to the incidents and interests of 
other kinds which must always co-exist even with the most ab- 
sorbing passion, gives a somewhat effeminate tone to at least 
parts of the poem. He seems to take a too ^^ fond^' view of hu^ 
man life. This impression is aided by the metre, which, though 
correct and smooth, is monotonous. Eeading considerable por- 
tions of it, it is impossible to avoid falling into a kind of sing- 
song, which, however appropriate to such passages as this, — and 
there are many like,— does injustice to others : 

" * Dear Felix I' 'Dearest Honor ! There 

Wss Aunt Maud's noisy knock and ring V 
' Stay, Felix ; you have caught my hair. 

Thanks. Is it smooth ? Now wiU you bring 
My work ? Good morning, Aunt.' * Why, Puss, 

Tou look magnificent to-day.' 
* Here's Felix, Aunt. * Fox and green goose ! 

Who handsome gets, should handsome pay.' 
' Tou 're friends, dear Aunt !' ^ 0, to be sure ! 

Good morning ! Go on flattering, Sir ; 
A woman's like the Koh-i-nohr, 

Just worth the price that 's put on her.' " 

Indeed, mastery of metrical forms is not one of Mr. Patmore's 
excellences. He has no ear apparently for the finer cadences, the 
" dying falls,'^ " the linked sweetnesses long drawn out,'' which in 
some poets make the sound a subtle echo of the sense, and spi- 
ritualise the mere mechanism of verse. Some of his poems are 
written in long lines, and some in short ones, some with alternate, 
and others in immediately recurring rhymes ; but this is all the 
difierence. There is scarcely a variation of the accent throughout 
the two volumes. ^^ Tamerton Church-Tower'' is a tale well told. 

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Mr. Coventry Paitnore^s Poems. 197 

contaming many fine passages. But it is impossible to read it 
without pro&ne recollections of " John Gilpin^'^ which do much 
to reduce it to a burlesque. Take one Terse : 

** Quoth Frank, ' I do : and thence foresee 
And all coo plainly scan 
Some sentimental homily 
On Duty, Death, or Man.' »* 

Nor has Mr. Patmore the power, so remarkable in Tennyson, of 
colouring the scenery he describes with the mood of mind to 
which he wishes to make it subordinate ; of grouping external 
objects as accessories to his main idea. This idea, indeed, Ten- 
nyson often gives merely through the accessories ; it is the resul- 
tant of their several forces, a kind of exhalation or efflorescence 
from them, without any separate substantive expression of its own. 
There are many illustrations of this in In Msmoriam, When 
independent utterance is given to both, it is of the briefest kind, 
at a flash, as it were; as in an outburst in '^ Locksley Hall :^' 

** my Amy, shallow-hearted ! my Amy, mine no more I 
O the dreary, dreary moorland ! the barren, barren shore !** 

This instantaneiiy is needful to effective oompajison. If the 
symbol is dwelt on too long, it loses its symbolic character, 
and distracts the attention from its own purport. Mr. Fat- 
more has not sufficiently guarded against this error. In ^^ Ta- 
merton Church-Tower,'^ and, to a less extent, in other of his 
poems, we have the state of mind of the hero described at con- 
siderable length, and then the scenery minutely painted to cor- 
respond. These rapid and frequent transitions from the '^ sub- 
jective ^' to the " objective '^ are occasionally a little bewildering. 
It is only on repeated perusal that we see their significance, and 
the effect they were intended to produce. The name of the 
poem to which these remarks are principally applicable is a 
case in point. The piece, we should premise, extends over 
fifty-three pages. At the commencement the narrator leaves 

** • . . the Church at Tamerton 
In gloomy western air.'' 

We do not hear of it again till the last verse, when 

** O'erhead the perfect moon kept pace, 
In meek and brilliant power. 
And lit, erelong, the eastern fiice 
Of Tamerton Church-Tower.'* 

The church symbolises his own fortunes; but it has been so 
lost sight of in the course of the story, that its reappearance 
hardly serves any purpose of illustration or deeper impression. 
Sut we do not wish to part with Mr. Patmore in a carping or 

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198 Civilistttian and Faith. 

detracting spirit. In The Angel in the House he has written 
a work which^ if not marked by the attributes of the highest 
genius, is yet, in its way, a genuine poem. He has been h»ppy 
in the choice of a subject which is interesting to all men at least 
once in their lives, and to most women during the whole of their 
lives; and which, whatever other changes the world may see, 
is not likely to grow obsolete. And his gifts are just those 
which fit him for the appropriate treatment of his theme. If 
we can scarcely venture to prophesy with him that he will rival 
the fame of Petrarch and Dante, — will live, in his own wordA^ 

" To be delight to future days, 
And into silence odIj oease 
With thoee who loved and shared their bays 
With Laura and with Beatrice," — 

we think that he has a fair likelihood of a more modest im- 
mortality. For the permanence of a work does not altogether 
depend on the magnitude of the powers which have beoi ex- 
pended upon it; but on the correspondence of the powers to their 
task, and their faithful and conscientious devotion to it. An 
unassuming vignette, minutely finished in its every detail, may 
outlast gigantic historic pictures, which exhibit only great and 
unrealised designs. The Angel in the House will, in any CBae, 
carry purifying and elevating influences into many existing 
homes, and help to impart a healthier tone to the poetic litera- 
ture of the day. This surely should be to the author a sufficient, 
if there be no further, recompense. 

Art. IX.— civilisation AND FAITH. 

History of Civilisation in Englaitd. By Henry Thomas Buckle. 
Vol.! J.W.Parker. 1857. 

The author of this very learned and remarkable volume has ela- 
borated and defended in his introductory chapters a very startling 
theory of civilisation. The civilisation of tropical and arctic coun- 
tries, he remarks, has been retarded by the dominating influence of 
physical nature over man ; in the former case through the excess 
of her productiveness, in the latter case through the excess of 
her stenlity. In Europe alone has there been a feir equipoise be- 
tween human and nattural forces ; and in Europe alone' has civili- 
sation been progressive and permanent. Turning then to Bu- 
rope, Mr. Buckle finds that mental laws have rapidly gained 
upon the physical; so that the history of European eiviMsation 

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Civilisation and Faith. 199 

beoomes a hlslaiy of the progress of the haman mind. Further, 
when^ looking into the mind itself^ we distinguish between those 
elements which hare been stationary and unimportant^ and those 
which have been cumulative and progressive, he finds that the 
moral and religious nature of man may be eliminated from this 
inquiry. The religion of a nation is a symptom of its state, not an 
influence changii^ that state. Even Christianity was too '^ mild 
and philosophic'^ for the world ; and it quickly appeared^ after it 
" had jreceived the homage of the best part of Europe, and seemed 
to have carried ail before it,'' that '^ nothing had been done." The 
only mouldinff influence which changes man, Mr. Buckle asserts, 
and which reftises to be changed by man, is intellectual knowledge. 
The history of Europe is a history of the European intellect. If, 
startled by this assertion, you point out that civilisation is to 
some extent a matter of individual experience; that eveiy man 
well knows what it is within him that makes him a better mem- 
ber of society, more of a true citizen, and what it is which resists 
the true laws of social unity ; and that the result of such experi- 
ence is by no means £Eivourable to the supposition that the bind* 
ing force is purely intellectual, nay, that social obligation is in- 
tellectual at ally — he will simply reply, that you are on a com- 
pletely wrong track ; that it is a complete and fdndamental mis- 
take for a man to imagine that individual experience can throw 
any but a misleading Ught on the greater movements of human 
society; that history and statistics are your only safe guide. The 
groui^ of this strange nefusal to look within the nature of man 
for any key to the problems of his history we must briefly state 
and criticise. It se^ns to us to be so deep and so pr^nant with 
false condittsions, that it vitiates Mr. Buckle's whole conception 
of history; and it logically carried out, will oompd him to du^rt 
the history of civilisation into a Ustcyry of the merest surface of 
civilisation. He ddiberately maintains, first, that the deeper you 
plunge into the individual life of man, the farther you are from 
any thing that affects his social history; and next, that it is a 
most fortunate circumstance that this should be so, inasmuch as 
the only kind of observation whidi is scientifically worthless and 
fruitless of all result is individual self-observation. These are 
Mr. Buckle's deliberate convictions : — that what most people call 
the deeper part of man, his affections, moral nature, faith, are 
eliminated as mere ^^disturbing influences" by any comprehensive 
survey of his history ; while the only pert of human life which is 
constantly affecting the histoty of the race (in temperate cli- 
ttu^es) more and more, is the intellectual part. More than or- 
dinarily good desires in one section of sodety cancel more than 
ordinarily bad desires in anoth^ section; temporary impulses 
of fanaticism in one age cancel temporary impulses of doubt in 

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200 CivUUatian and Faith. 

another. Take European society as a whole^ and while othei' 
elements fluctuate, only one element changes according to any 
law of progressive increase, and that is the intellectual life and 
acquisitions of man. ^^ We are all sensible/^ he concedes^ " that 
moral principles do affect nearly the whole of our actions; 
but we have incontrovertible proof that they do not produce the 
least effect upon mankind in the aggregate, or even on men in 
very large masses, provided that we tske the precaution of study* 
ing social phenomena for a period sufficiently long, and on a scale 
sufficiently great, to enable the superior laws to come into uncon«> 
trolled operation.^' And again, he argues, '^ In reference to our 
moral conduct, there is not a single principle now known to the 
most cultivated Europeans which was not likewise known to the 
ancients.^^ '^ Now,^' he adds, " since civilisation is the product of 
moral and intellectual agencies, and since that product is con- 
stantly changing, it evidentiy cannot be regulated by the sta- 
tionary agait ; because, when surrounding circumstances are un- 
changed, a stationary agent can only produce a stationary effect. 
The only other agent is the intellectual one.'' And on this one 
argument alone he bases the very startling proposal to eliminate 
all moral and religious influences from his enumeration and his- 
tory of the determining causes of civilisation. ^' I pledge my-« 
self,'' he adds, — surely somewhat rashly, — ^' to show that the pio- 
gress Europe has made from barbarism to civilisation is entirely 
due to its intellectual activity." That a thinker so able as Mr. 
Buckle should so completely be imbued with the notion that 
knowledge, in some shape or other, is the only power that can 
introduce any new force into human life, as to overlook quite 
unconsciously the very transparent confusion in the soUtary argu* 
ment we have quoted between the stationary character of man's 
knowledge of moral principles and the stationary character of 
man's obedience to moral principles, and of their Hving infimence 
over him, is one of the most surprising testimonies we have ever 
seen to the narrowing power of a school of thought. The whole 
question at issue Mr. Buckle passes by without a sign of lecogni^ 
tion ; the question, we mean, whether or not civilisation depends, 
not on the " discovery'^ of moral truth, but on the fidelity to moral 
truth, and on the influx of new and powerfrd spiritual influencea 
into human history, which, while adding nothing to the disco- 
veries of truth, add infinitely to men's fidelity, and the wiUingness 
of their allegiance to trutii. Quietly assuming that if there 
could be any new moral influence on society at all, it oould be 
given-off only by new moral discoveries, he of comrse excludes at 
once the possibility of admitting volition, or smtiment, or trusty 
which can only add new force to old feelings, into his scheme of 

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CitnUsation and Faiih. 201 

He easily leads ub^ therefore^ to the canelusion that the "to- 
tality of human actions'' depends entirely from age to age on the 
aucoessiye '' totalities of human knowledge/' — action^ so far as 
it is not governed by knowledge, succeeding in cancelling itself. 

" The gigantic crimes of Alexander or Napoleon become, after a 
tame, void of effect, and the affairs of the world return to their former 
level. This is the ebb and flow of history, the perpetual flux to which 
by the laws of our nature we are subject. Above all this, there is a 
fieur higher movement ; and as the tide rolls on, now advancing, now 
receding, there is, amid its endless flaetuations, one thing, and one 
alone, which endures for ever. The actions of bad men produce only 
temporary evil, the actions of good men only temporary good; aid 
eventiially the good and the evil altogether subside, are neutralised by 
subsequent generations, absorbed by the incessant movement of future 
ages. But the discoveries of great men never leave us ; they are im- 
mortal, they contain those eternal truths which survive the shock of 
empires, outlive the struggles of rival creeds, and witness the decay of 
successive religioi^s. All these have their different measures and their 
different standards ; one set of opinions for one age, another set for 
another. They pass away like a dream ; they are as the fabric of a 
vision, which leaves not a rack behind. The discoveries of genius 
alone remain ; it is to them we owe all that we now have, they are for 
all ages and idl times ; never young, and never old, they bear the seeds 
of theur own life ; they flow on in a perennial and undying stream ; 
they are essentic^y cumulative, and, giving birth to the additions 
which they subsequently receive, they thus influence the most distant 
posterity, and after the lapse of centuries produce more effect than they 
were able to do even at the moment of their promulgation." 

But Mr. Buckle's most characteristic application of this 
doctrine is to his conception of what history is and should be. 
Having laid the foundation by eliminating moral elements — ^not, 
we must carefully remember, from human society itself, but 
from the law of social change — ^he goes on to ai^ue, that history 
ought to record those facts only which bring with them social 
variations ; and should pass by as insignificant those which merely 
help us to realise the essential unity of the human race, and to 
see in the past the same hopes and fears, the same curiosity, 
aad the same passions, and often too the same fluctuating faith, 
which constitute the essential parts of human life. The historian 
is not to paint the men of dap gone by in their essential identity 
with, and their characteristic differences from, the living; it is 
Mb main duty to record these facts which are changing the 
social condition of nations, and to pass by all Ufe and incident 
that is insignificant of progressive movement, as the mere anec- 
dotes and gossip of the past. " In the study of the history of 
Man,'' he says, " the most important facts have been n^lected, 
and the unimportant ones preserved The vast majority 

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2QS CivUUaium end Faiib. 

of faiatorians fill their works witli tbe most trifling and mi- 
serable details ; personal anecdotes of kings and courts ; inter- 
xuinable relations of what was said by one minister and what 
was thought by another ; and, worse than all^ long accounts of 
campaigns^ battles, and sieges^ very interesting to those engaged 
in them, but to us utterly useless^ because t/iey neither furnish 
new truths, nor do they supply tfie means by which new truUis 
may be discovered.^' The last sentence goes to the root of Mr. 
Buckle's philosophy of history ; what he principally values is 
the discovery of intellectual truth, not a deeper hold of cUl 
truth. He evidently conceives of man as an object of interest, 
because his history is capable of '' successive generalisations,' ' 
instead of holding that these generalisations (if true) derive 
their interest mainly from their remote connection with man. 
He does not care to know what a man was, what he felt, what 
he thought, how the world looked to him, how fer he looked 
through the world to a divine life beyond it. Art, and we be- 
lieve also literature, he expresdy states to be *' lower** than sci- 
ence.* History he indignantly hopes to rescue from the hands 
of "biographers.*' He warns us how apt is the historian to 
^' sin^ into the annalist," and instead of solving a problem, 
merely to "paint a picture.** Surely it depends something on 
the kind of problem solved, and the kind of picture painted, 
which is the higher work. Mr. Buckle cannot too deeply expre» 
his dignified satisfaction in the discovery of any of those " sue* 
oessive generalisations,** by which it is, for instance, ascertained 
that " the nnmbor of marriages bears a fixed and definite rda- 
tion to the price of com ;** or that the number of suicides in Lon- 
don attains a madmum in the hottest months of the year. But 
a historian who only fixes for the future the flying colours of the 
p^st, though breathing into it nevertheless die Hving spirit of 
the present, — who only tells us, for instance, how, at the Theban 
banquet before the battle of Flateso, the Persian officer, over- 
powered by strong forebodings, predicted with streaming eyes 
to him who sat next him at the feast the inevitable fate of the 
hosts of his countrymen, and lus own helplessness to .avert it; 
or who merely records how each of the Gracchi, in his own cha^ 
racteristic fashion, won the ear and heart of the Roman mnU 
titnde, — ^the elder by his quiet authority and self-restraint, the 
younger by his restless and eloquent passion; or who only 
paints for us how Cromwell '^ turned the tide of battle on Mar* 
ston Moor;** how CUve hesitated on the eve of Plassey; how^ 
in the opening of the French B^volution, the moody and mi- 
serable women of Paris, burst in upon the palace of Versailles; 
how Bobespierre ruled, and how desperately he struggled befone 

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CitnHsaiion and Faith. 208 

he fell; — hiatarians who do this for us^ and nothiBg more^ are 
contemptuously classed by Mr. Buckle as ^^ biographers, gene- 
alogists^ collectors of anecdotes^ chroniclers of courts/' or as 
mere compilers, who '^ trespass on a province &r above their 
awn" We are not sure but that any painting which helps 
us to realise vividly one living crisis of past history is a deeper 
lesson in historic wisdom than to master the whole train of 
" successive generalisations/' which can be got exclusively by 
comparing the different ^' totalities of human knowledge'' at 
different ages of the world. In fact, history does not its work 
for us at all unless it teaches us to distinguish between the va- 
riable and the essential in human existence; and this it cannot 
adequately do unless it makes us realise how the deeper life of the 
past had as vivid a ripple of temporary interest on its surface 
as our own. We are apt to lose half the wisdom that history 
might give us, by disconnecting the dim historic forms that flit 
before us irom the detail and characteristic '^ anecdote" of out* 
ward and daily life. Perhaps Plutarch has taught the world full 
as much as Thucydides. We do not realise even what ancient 
vices and ancient virtues mean, — ^we do not see the significanoe of 
faith, or idolatry, or law, — ^until the minute biographic touches, 
which Mr. Buckle seems so much to despise, are added to tibose 
^'generalisations" concerning the '^ totalities of human know^ 
ledge" which he appears to consider the exclusive work of the his- 
torian. Even, therefore, if the intellect were (which we do not in 
the least believe) the dynamic or moving principle in human his- 
tory, we should utterly deny that a historian who should exclu- 
sively narrate those events which '^ furnish new truths, or the 
means by which new truths could be discovered," had performed 
even the most essential portion of his task. We read history to 
see what man tc^os, not only to see what he became. 

But though this be true of history, in it equally true of the 
history of civilisation? Is not civilisation a state of becondnff, 
not a state of being? Though our author does not take the 
distinction for himsdf, we may fairly take it for him. He might 
sa;^ truly enough that the historian of a nation's civilisation is 
not bound to give the picture of its whole life; but of the modi- 
fications only that arise fix>m time to time in that Kfe, as its so- 
ciety became more and more (or less and less) civilised. And 
this is true enough ; but still these changes, as they arise, must 
be coimeeted with the deeper workings of the national life, other- 
wise it is certain that they will not be truly recorded at all. 
According to Mr. Buckle's theory of civilisation, this is not in the 
least necessary ; for the moral life of nations is eliminated when 
you look at tiiem on a scale sufficiently large. The good and 
evil^ the justice and the injxmtice, the humility and the ambition. 

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304 CiviKsaiian and Faith. 

are, on the whole, in equilibrium ; and to write the history of a 
nation^s civilisation is to write the history of its intellect, which 
alone can inherit the experience of the past, and alone, therefore, 
sways the social changes of the present. The intellect of past 
ages raises the platform on which the intellect of this age stands ; 
but it is not so with conscience and emotion. We do not ^- 
tinguish right and wrong more vividly ; we do not love and hate 
more intensely ; we do not believe with increasing and more un- 
questioning trust, — ^because our fathers have weighed right and 
wrong, have loved and hated and trusted, before us. We can 
distance them more and more in knowledge ; but the moral levdl 
of age after age fluctuates between nearly the same limits. 

This is Mr. Buckleys argument ; and we will willingly concede 
that the intellect is becoming a more and more powcsrM instm^ 
ment in human civilisation. But the instrument of civilisation 
is one thing,. and civilisation itself quite another. It is not in 
the least true, but the reverse of true, that the intellectual laws 
are the " superior*' laws, which gain more and more upon the 
physical, moral, and spiritual laws. It is not in the least true 
that the intellect is the superior faculty, — ^the faculty that is capa- 
ble of the most indefinite expansion, and which assumes therefore 
constantly increasing proportions to the physical, moral, and spi- 
ritual faculties. The intellect has not more expansive force than 
many other faculties of human nature, and not so much as some. 
When Mr. Buckle distinguishjes between the intellectual nature 
of man and his moral and spiritual nature in this, that the first 
is more " essentially cumulative*' in its influence on human his- 
tory than the latter, no doubt he meant to express an observed 
'fact. But what is the fact which he had observed? No doubt 
this, — that all moral and spiritual truths need, as we may say, 
perpetual verification and re-discovery, in order to exert an in- 
fluence at all ; while intellectual truths exert a large influence as 
mere machinery, — as fixed data which the practical man turns 
into practical convenience. Embody the discovery of the atmo- 
sphere's weight in a barometer; and even if the truth on which 
it rests should ever be forgotten, the invention which was the^off- 
spring of that truth might still survive to accommodate mankind. 
But embody the truth that ^' the more familiar we are with moral 
evil, the less we know of it ;" or that " the word of Grod is quick 
and powerful as any two-edged sword," — in any form you vrill, and 
they convey no meaning at all, except so far as the spirit in which 
they were first recorded is still alive ; and if they are crystalliaed 
into moral or religious institutions, those institutions must become 
sheer dead weights on society in proportion as their spiritual sig- 
nificance dies away. This is clearly Mr. Buckle's meaning, and 
no doubt it is correct ; bat it is very ill expressed by saying that 

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Cmli$atian and Faith. 205 

intellectaal power is cumulatiTe^ and moral or spiritual power 
not so. For it is exactly in proportion as intellectual power is 
capable of yielding fruits which are non-intellectual^ that it is 
more cumulatiTe than moral or spiritual power. In other words^ 
so far as the intellect can be made the effective instrument of 
other human desires and capacities beside the intellect^ so far 
is it more cumulative than &culties which have no end out of 
themselves. But this is only saying that intellectual agencies 
are subsidiary and instrumental to moral and spiritual agencies, 
while the latter are not subsidiary and instrumental to the 
farmer. Suppose for a moment that it were necessary for all the 
intellectual processes which lead to scientific results, — ^to the 
telegraph, or to the manufacture of cotton, or to the cure of 
dis^ise, — ^to be more or less adequately realised by all who bene- 
fit by lliem, — as it is in the case of moral and spiritual truth,— ^ 
and we should soon find that intellectual truth was far less 
cumulative than moral or spiritual truth. It is not so with the 
results of intellectual discovery, simply because these results be- 
come subordinate agencies to other and more active portions of 
human nature. The intellectual laws are, in fsud, immediately 
subordinated to the physical, moral, and spiritual desires. The 
results of intellectual discovery in the streets of London are ac- 
cumulated, distributed, consumed, far less in accordance with 
intellectual laws than with those primitive wants and desires of 
human nature which they are the mere instruments of satisfying. 
For example, Mr. Buckle has formed the marvellous and, for a 
man of his intellectual attainment, almost incredible conviction, 
that Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations is ''probably the most 
important book that has ever been written.^' Now, supposing it 
were so, how much could that book have effected tlurough purely 
intellectual agency, if its conclusions had not been directly sub- 
sidiary to some of the strongest passions of human nature — the 
desire for subsistence and wealth, and all to which wealth is 
more or less subordinate? Much, no doubt, of the commercial 
greatness of this country is caused by the clearer visum which, 
through Adam Smith, these desires have attained. But what 
could the theory have done without the desires? Which was 
the cumulative, and which the merely subordinate, agent? The 
legislator learned of Adam Smith, and set commerce free. But 
tlus might have been done and not a step gained, had not the 
eager forces of physical and moral desire pushed in to fill at once 
the ground thus gained* The intellect is cumulative in Mr. 
Buckle's sense only because its results are fitly instrumental to 
desires that are other than intellectual; while the higher capa- 
cities of human nature have their fittest ends only in themselves, 
and are utterly distorted and defaced by being made the instru- 

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206 Oivilkatian and Faith. 

ments of lower cspadtieft. The transit instrameiit, the ehiurch, 
the school^ the shop, the locomotive^ the organ, are all more or 
less results of intelleetual power ; bat all, ^loepting only the first 
oi the series, exhibit the intellectual power in service to other 
than intellectual desires ; and it may be affirmed without hesi- 
taticm, that it is rather the weakness or strength of these desii^es 
than any intelleetual consideration which determines the civilisa. 
tion of a nation. Why has India stood still for ages? Not for 
want of intellectual faculty, but for want of spiritual, moral, and 
physical energy, — ^firom Isiigaor of wish, and languor of will, and 
languor of oonsdenoe, and languor of trust,— because the inteUeo 
tual £Eiculty has found no active employers,—- because the ^' slanre 
of the lamp^^ has never been summoned to his work. Why, too, 
did Mr. Buckle take no note of the decay of Greece and Borne, 
where die intellectual conditions were all present, and were not 
^^ cumulative^' because the moral forces which used them were all 
in anarchy and selfish discord? It is worth noting, again, that 
there is no trace of any tendency in the intellectual faculties to 
gain way on the other elements of human nature. No doubt 
they are developed in a hxgtr proportion of the people of modem 
days; but their intrinsic capacity tor rehtive expansion is as 
limited by the pressure of otiiier wants and desires as ever. No 
intelleet of later days has ever equaUed that of Plato. ProbaUy 
in the intellectual classes of Greece the relative power of the in*- 
tellect in proportioii to the remainder of human nature attained 
its climax, because it was thea digproporUonately strong. 

Mr. Buckle's deeply-rooted impression that the intellectual 
laws of society are the ^* superior laws,'' that they exhibit ibe 
^' dynamics" of social eodatence, the moving fbsees, instead of the 
merely facilitating conditions for other and deeper forces to work 
upon, is fostered by his extraordinary preference for statistics 
over psychology as an index to the real laws of the human mind. 
He tells us that self-observation can never lead to any accurate 
result, that it misleads metaphysicians into all sorts of fiiJsdiood, — 
that the observation is made through a disturbing medium, be- 
cause the watching consciousness is subject to the very fluctu- 
ations of temper it needs to watch, — ^that, in short, the laws 
that statistics reveal are certain because they are laws independ* 
ent of the accidents of individual diaraefcer, while the individual 
observer must be in danger of generalising what is peculiar to 
himself. Thus he proves firee-will to be a diimera by the statis- 
tics of crime and suicide, which show an unchanged average re^ 
suit far unchanged physical and social oonditions ; and he explains 
to us that ^^ parallel chains of evidence" '^ force us to the condusioa 
that the offences of men result not so much from tiie vices of the 
individual offender as from the state of society into which that 

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CimlkaHon md Faith. 207 

indi?idnal is thrown/^ We miurt devote a few words to this sta- 
tistical aspect of civilifflng causes^ because we beUere it to be xme 
of the most telUng fallacies which sustain Mr. Backle and his 
school in the refusal to look vrithin the mind, at the sources of 
volition, for the sources of national decay and national greatness; 
while it really is one of the very shallowest fiJkcies by whidi acute 
intdlects can be deceived. The advocates of this theory do not 
see that statistics could not reveal the real laws of any pheno<- 
mena at all unless the phenomena studied were subject only to 
one simple law of causation. No doubt statistics might and did 
reveal the law that fidling bodies pass through spaces due to the 
earth's attraction in the successive seooncte; but this is only 
becaose the attaraction of the earth is the one force, totally over- 
powering all complicating and disturbing forces. But as applied 
to a complieation of causes, all that statistics can possibly show 
is the rendual force, — ^the feather that turns the scale. Statis- 
tics can indicate by no sort of sign the powei&l forces which are 
coimteracted by other powerful forces. If the opposite scales are 
weighted with powers that,uneounteracted, would move the world, 
the putting in of Hie feather will still be followed by the descent 
of the scale, just as if they had both been empty; and the statis*- 
tician writes down the feather as the sole cause of the event. Now 
how such a pioeess, which necessarily eliminates all the tempo^ 
rarily count^poising forces of human nafture from its considexr^ 
ation altogether, can be supposed to reveal the proper laws of the 
human mdnd seems marvellous enough. Statistics, if carefully 
drawn up, may be very useful in detecting slight residual in- 
fluences; but as superseding investigation into the mass of the 
powers really at work, it leads to mere delusion ; and as an at^ 
testation of the necessarian doctrine, it seems to us a th<m)ughly 
Wicmdarful piece of juggling. No man supposes that the will is un- 
influenced by motives, though he may beueve that it has a power 
of determining to what solicitations it will surrender. No nuui 
denies that the more temptation there is, fte more crime there is 
likely to be; the only question being, whether the proportionate 
increase is always so exact that it leaves no room for the inter* 
vention of a certain expense of resisting power. And if any man 
can speak certainly for himself that his pressing temptations have 
ever increased in a greater proportion than his moral restraints 
without producing a proportionate increase in his surrender to 
those temptations, he has solved the problem for himself at once 
and for ever. l%e indeterminate influence of the will, whieh, if 
really free to choose between opposite solicitations, might neces- 
sarily be thrown into either scale, could not possibly be discovered 
by statistics without a previous certainty of tiie equilibrium of 
other tendencies^ which it is impossible to ascertain. And even 

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208 Cimlisaium and Faith. 

ihea, in judging for a large mass of men^ the number of cases 
in winch the will's casting vote went for right might be cancelled 
by the number of cases in which it went for wrong. 

Mr. Buckle's objection to the medium of psychological investi- 
gation^ on the old ground that the observing mind is clouded by 
the very intensity of the experience it wants to observe^ is clearly 
not without weight; but^ at all events^ it is the only medium 
through which we can hope to get a scientific knowledge of the 
laws of mind at all: and against the special defects of the ob« 
serving medium must be set off one or two special advantages 
which other sciences do not possess. When Mr. Buckle states, that 
except a few of the laws of association, vision, and touch, '^ there 
is not to be foimd in the whole compass of metaphysics a single 
principle of importance, lind at the same time of incontestable 
truth,'' we can only say that we are quite unable to acquiesce 
in his arbitrary dictum, and that we believe the ethical school 
founded by Bishop Butler is destined to elaborate a gaiuine 
science of the moral and active affections of man. We are sur^ 
pnised to see that, in enumerating the ethical theorists of the 
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Mr. Buckle completely 
passes over one so vastly superior to all those whom he enu- 
merates, in depth, breadth, and, above all, reality of thought. 
And we are fully convinced that a little more sympathy with that 
great thinker's fundamental assumption of primitive forces pro* 
oeeding from and original in the mind, — not mere reflex states 
[troBtf) produced by the action of the external world, but im« 
pulses social and individual, urging man into an external world, — 
would have given a life and truth to our author's interpretations 
of national history, which must have rendered it tax mwe worthy 
of the extraordinary learning and not ordinary generalising power 
that those interpretations evince. As it is, the active parts of 
national character vanish wholly away beneath Mr. Buckle's treat-* 
ment ; or are seen but dimly, as spiritual soils absorbing a gra- 
dually accumulating dew of knowledge, which gathers by its own 
beneficent laws, and scnnehow carries those b^eficent laws with 
it into the formless national life into which it sinks. 

We have analysed briefly our author's philosophy of dvUisa- 
tion, and shown what we believe to be its radical ^rors. Be* 
fore touching on any of his historical illustrations of his theory, 
we shall, we think, best illustrate our theoretical criticisms by 
discussing what sort of strength or virtue it is that barbarism 
may lose, and often has lost, in passing into civilisation. It 
is a simple matter of fact, that barbarism has often degraded 
much by the steps which ought to have civilised, nay, wUch in 
some spurious sense did civilise; but which left men mutually 

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Civilisation and Faith. 209 

dependent without any mutual respect^ because they left men 
in a social combination that had ceased to be life-giving and 
natural without ceasing to be needful. If we do but survey ^ 
the history of the worlds we shall undoubtedly find more cases 
of unsuccessful than of successful civilisation. Mr. Buckle has 
himself noted and discussed a few — ^not the most important — of 
these ; and we shall have occasion to examine the partial solution 
he proposes. But he does not comment any where on the es- 
sential moral degeneracy which often marks the transition from 
barbarism to a more refined and complex social life. Yet it is 
obvious, that the various nations of Mahometan faith have every 
where seemed to part with their finest characteristics, — to lose 
the gleam of many stem and brilliant military virtues, — ^when 
exposed to an atmosphere of tranquil industry and accumulating 
w«dth. The Turk, as we know, scarcely resists the decomposing 
power of that European civilisation into the heart of which he 
so successfully fought his way. The Turkoman Mussulman in 
India had virtue enough to conquer a country which he had not 
virtue enough to hold ; and yet the dynasty which has just ended 
the foulest of imperial careers at Delhi gave promise of reaUy 
great qualities when Baber was fresh from the wild regions of 
Transoxiana and Cabul. In China, too, the Northern Mongols 
have ever triumphed over the Chinese by a superiority which 
they immediately lose through mere contact with the civilisation 
th^ have beaten. It looks as if the life of the desert and the 
soldier were a needful preparatory school in the East for the life 
of the cities of the plain, and that not unfrequently the former 
stage of civilisation has been tempted too soon into the latter. 
But it is not perhaps till we come to the civilisation of Greece 
and Rome that we find any distinct and conscious expression of 
national distrust as to the tendencies of civilisation 3 and these 
cases Mr. Buckle utterly passes by. It is dear that, to the 
Greek and the Roman, civilisation, though an inevitable process, 
oflen seemed a very doubtful good, sometimes a very certain 
evil. They perhaps did not very clearly define to themselves what 
they meant by it. But though they would not have disputed 
Mr. Buckleys definition that it is measurable, in part at least, 
by *^ the triumph of mind over external agents," they certainly 
gave it a much fuller meaning, aud saw clearly that it often 
ended in the triumph of external agents over mind. They thought 
of it as a centralising process, which tended to bring widely dis- 
tant limits into the range of one similar and homogeneous social 
condition, — as a process which enabled men to interchange with 
greater ease the fruits of labour, which widened human resources, 
and enabled the many to avail themselves of the intelligence, 
ability, and wisdom of the few, and which enabled the few to avail 


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210 Civilisation and Faith. 

themselves more easily of the labour, strength, and reverence of 
the many. They thought of it as an influence which promoted 
thought ; which gave those who had eyes to sete, and ears to hear, 
a wider range of experience, and the opportunity of communicat- 
ing what they saw and heard to others who had no such oppor- 
tunity. They thought of it as a force favourable to the mere 
administration of justice, which did away with the necessity that 
every man must be able and willing to protect himself. And yet 
they also thought of it as a tendency promoting luxury, aggra- 
vating social inequalities, estranging the higher classes from 
habits of self-denial, estranging the lower classes from habits of 
self-respect, giving to society generally a tinge of effeminacy, and 
to all classes, even inclnding the soldiers, a spirit of self-conscious 
license more dangerous than the ferocity of barbarous periods ; 
and weakening in aU classes the traditional faiths which, hating 
been born of isolation and hardship and budding national am- 
bition, lose all their reality amid the levelling influences of civic 
traffic, civic levity, and the contagious helplessness of dvic fears. 
It is a remarkable feet that, in every nation of classical an- 
tiquity, there was, at the height of their civilisation, a reactionary 
school which professed either scorn or dread of the main resulfe 
of civilisation. Plutarch smiles at Cato the Censor for asserting 
that when the Romans had once thoroughly imbibed the litera- 
ture of Greece they would ''^lose the empire of the world." Y^ 
the event justified the fear, not because the Greek literature was 
especially dangerous, but because the Roman character was not 
soimd enough to bear — and felt that it was not sound enough tb 
bear — the enervation arising from a wide division of classes into 
classes of wealth and classes of labour, classes of literary leisure 
and luxury and classes of stem military enterprise. And thtrs, 
not only in Judea, where it was natural, and in Eastern countries, 
where such habits of thought are indigenous, but in Greece and 
Rome, there sprang up among the rich and educated a school of 
ascetic philosophy to express its profound fear of the moral ddngei*s 
which civilisation had bred. The fact is more remarkable, because 
we must remember that it has no parallel in modem history, 
although in modem times the arts and luxuries known to the an- 
cient world have been multiplied a hundredfold. And if we should 
now deem it a foolish and unmeaning anachronism for an emperor 
of Prance or Austria to lead the austere Kfe and inculcate the 
ascetic doctrine of Aurelius, — if we should conceive an English 
statesman obviously insane, who should practise and recommend to 
the House of Commons as the best fruits of his wisdom the severe 
frugalities and physical self-denials of Phocion, — it seems clear 
that there is in the popular mind and heart of Europe less dread, 
and less reason for dread, of the moral dangers which civilisation 

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Civilisation and Faith. 211 

brings than there was in the ancient world. We recognise that 
as a mark of strength in them which woald be a singular weak- 
ness in onrselves j and the reason is obvious, the world in which 
thej lived was a world in which civilisation needed to be undone. 
It implied a loss of all the manliness and purity of the old tra- 
ditions. The barbarous nations were no doubt still at the be- 
ginning of their career; but the civilised nations were, in moral 
condition, behind the beginning. They had to imravel the web 
of their civilisation before they could begin again. And we hon- 
our those therefore who, being the first to perceive this, strove, 
however firuitlessly with regard to ottiers, to anticipate as it were 
in their own lives the subsequent history and discipline of their 
nation,— *to keep personally clear of the staining impurity and 
practical paralysis of mind which the fiery adversity of centuries 
was scarcely able to eradicate fix)m the national character of their 

What is it, then, which has done away in modem history 
with this fear of civilising agencies, which evidently possessed the 
highest minds of the highest nations of antiquity? What is it that 
nmkes us look npon thia suspicion of the arts, and sciences, and 
literatures^ and luxuries, of the modem world as something either 
ignorant; or at least essentially narrow and antique, and wholly 
unworthy to enter practically into the policy of a State? We can- 
not say that it is merely our superior knowledge which leads us to 
see — ^that what Sparta fought against by immemorial policy, what 
Borne dreaded^ and Rome's most cfaaracteristie statesmen in- 
veighed against by life and precept^ what the deepest philosophic 
school of Athens rebuked as the root of political rottenness, what 
the religious enthusiasts of every Oriental nation renounced as 
by common consent, — ^was not really dangerous after all. For all 
these nations were, in fact, decomposed by the very influences 
against which their own teachers raised their fruitless testimony. 
nliey saw the process going on, and we see it complete. The 
fear wiA which it inspired them was by no means a confused 
fear of all new forces, such as we now see in the Conservatives of 
modem Europe: it was the instinctive fear of conscious decay. 
And in us it has no similar vitality, because it is not thus accom- 
panied by dwindling strength and growing license; by the frightjful 
antithesis of strong ignorant superstition in the multitude, and 
cultivated aristocratic scepticism in the few; by the relaxation of 
law, the despair of philosophy, and an intellectual development 
among the learned out of fdl proportion to their intellectual dis- 
coveries and convictions. But to say thus much, is only to state 
the problem in another form; and we may still ask. How could 
the very same agencies cause or aggravate the mortal diseases of 
ancient nations which at least co-exist with, if they do not tend 

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212 Civilisation and Faith. 

to produce^ health in nations of modem days? Let ns briefly 
note what were the recognised elements of evil and misery in all 
the ancient civilisations. This evil and misery showed itself, we 
belieye, first in an exaggeration of the classifying tendency of 
civilisation, that is, by the rapid growth of impassable chasms be- 
tween class and class; next in what we may call the absorbent 
power in the social influences of civilisation, or, in other words, 
in the tendency of general society to drain individual and domes- 
tic life and faith of all their distinctive strength and character; 
finally, by the general confusion and identification of social ends 
with the external pleasures which civilisation accumulated as oc- 
casions of social relaxation, the .high^ tie itself losing its binding 
power as the glow and enthusiasm of a common popular life 
oecame more and more dependent on the stimulating food which 
the tyrannic appetites of the multitude Bpeedily craved. These, we 
take it, were the three stages of social decay, in one or other of 
which all the ancient civilisations were wxecJced; in other words, 
first, the stage of class-hatreds, in which human nature shows itself 
too selfish for the larger claims of society; next, the stage of re- 
laxed purity, in which it suxrenders to social temptations the 
strength of individual character and fidelity proper to the primi- 
tive household traditions; finally, the stage of social eorruption, in 
which even the social tie becomes utterly selfish, and the social 
body has become a sensual body without a souL Mr. Buckle al- 
ludes only to the firsl^ and to a very small part only of that stage 
of decay; but what he sa^s upon that is very characteristic. 

That civilisation begins at once with classifying men, our 
author sees clearly; and he has illustxated with much acuteness, 
and with his usual inexhaustible learning, the great influence 
which physical conditions have in exaggerating the divisions be- 
tween wealth and poverty, — the class of masters and the class of 
slaves. But here, as throughout his book, he is content with ex- 
hibiting mere negative conditions favourable to the state of things 
he is describing, uid yet speaking of them as the *' dynamics'' of 
society, while he entirely neglects positive causes. For example, 
he here refers the miserable results of almost all the Oriental 
and also of the old Mexican and Peruvian civilisations to one phy- 
sical circumstance alone, the immense fruitfiilness of the soil in 
proportion to the wants of the peculation. He points out that 
wherever this has been the case, accumulations of wealth are in- 
evitable; so that civilisation, so far as regards the classification of 
society into labourers and capitalists, is certain to b^n. But as 
a little labour yields a vast deal more than is needful to support 
itself in these warm climates and firuitfiil soils, it is at least pos- 
sible for the capitalist to appropriate as profit a veiy large re- 
ward after the labour has been paid for. In climates where the 

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dvilisatum and Faith. 213 

Boil is less fruitfiil, and the physical wants of the labourer more 
extensive, this is no longer so easy. For industry yields a smaller 
produce, and at the same time absolutely requires a larger share 
of that produce. It is therefore obvious, cateris paribus, that 
large and speedy accumulations of wealth by a very small class 
are far more natural in rich tropical countries than in Europe. 
And Mr. Buckle points out with great care that this state of 
things has been, as a matter of fact, favourable to what we may 
call a hothouse civilisation, of very rapid growth and very feeble 
stamina. In India, in Egypt, in Mexico, in Peru, the splendour 
of the rich was only matched by the helpless indigence and misery 
of the multitude; and it is clear that the enormous crops which 
rice and dates, and dhourra and maize yielded to the cultivator, 
were in this way extremely unfavourable to the slow and steady 
progress of the mass of the people.* But even in this case it is 
false, and in its consequences a falsehood of some importance, to 
say that these favouring physical conditions are the operative 
causes which produce this sort of result. It would be too self- 
evident a criticism, to point out in these cases that it is the 
selfishness or absence of self-restraint in human desire which, 
availing itself of these favouring conditions, really works out these 
results, were it not that the neglect of this very simple observa- 
tion has vitiated the fundamental assumptions of Mr. Buckle s 
book. No doubt, in popular language, we call any thing a cause 
the removal of which would greatly vary the effect. But it is ob- 
vious enough, that without the active forces of human desire, the 
mere productiveness of the soil could have no effect whatever on 
the distribution of wealth. The products of the soil do not, we 
imagine, distribute themselves. Were there any prudent self- 
restraint among the labourers in adjusting their claims and em- 
ploying their savings, or any benevolent self-restraint among the 
capitalists in enforcing their advantage, then, even in a tropical 
country and with a soil that produces four-hundredfold, there could 
not grow up such vast and impassable chasms between the various 
classes. It is the unrestrained desire on each side that really brings 

* Mr. Buckleys book is very defecdre in method, or what Sir W. Hamilton 
used grandly to call '* architectonic power." He frequently introduces thoughtful 
and valuable digressions quito irrelevant to his subject. For example, it is no 
donbt physiolo^cally very interesting to show that in hot countries the human 
body needs ^'oxidised" fooid, which is almost entirely vegetable, and in cold coun- 
tries ** carbonised'' food, which is almost entirely animal ; but it is only at Uie 
next step, with regard, namely, to its plenty or scarcity, that this affects the his- 
tory of the race. Men know if it is abundant ; they do not know that it is 
** oxidised," nor would they be affected by it if they did. In like manner, we 
mi^^ht say that the neighbourhood of the sea has a very important efiect on human 
civilisation ; would he on that account go a step back there also, and analyse care- 
fully the scientific antecedents in the histoiy of the globe which cut off England 
from the continent of Europe ? 

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214 Civilisation and Faith. 

about this result^ — ^the limitless and unscrupulous passion for gain 
on one side^ the limitless fear of power and love of immediate 
gratification on the other. Now this would be a very trivial and 
carping criticism^ did not the whole history of civilisation show 
that the great difference between the degraded and unstable 
civilisations and the stable civilisation of modem times Kes, not 
in any difference of physical or intellectual conditions, but in 
controUed inclinations^ in a new influence over men's impulses 
and wills. 

The new element has been introduced through no channel of 
external opportunity, but at the deeper fountains of desire itself. 
The three ancient nations which have most influenced the history 
of the world — the Romans, the Greeks, and the Jews — all inha- 
bi,ted lands in which the unfavourable conditions of which Mr, 
Buckle speaks were not to be found. And, in point of fact, the 
vast chasms between class and class that did exist in each of these 
nations were not primarily due in any of them to rapid or vast ac- 
cumulations of wealth. They were due to the unequal accumu- 
lation of privileges, but not of physical wealth. Throughout the 
greatest age of Rome, the political monopoly of the highest class 
was not grounded on riches at all ; throughout the great intel- 
lectual age of Athens, the intellectual aristocracy was quite inde- 
pendent of any property-distinction; and through the long reli- 
gious history of Judea, the theological oligarchy of the nation 
had no power that was founded in wealth. Yet we find that the 
selfishness and the unrestrained desires of men acted as power- 
fully in condensing into a very limited social area political, intel- 
lectual, and theological privileges, as they did in Oriental coun- 
tries in aggregating physical wealth. There was the most genu- 
ine exclusiveness in each of these cases. The Roman patricians 
not only fought hard for their privileges, but they had no wish 
that any class should befit for political power but themselves. 
The Athenian philosophers avowed their belief that the higher 
wisdom was not suitable for any but a select few ; that action 
was vulgarising, and spoiled the mind for intellectual vision and 
meditation ; that only the privileged golden natures were bom 
for speculation, while the common artificers had souls of brass or 
iron, like the materials they used. The Jewish Pharisee, again, 
was " not as other men were ;" and on the strength of his supe- 
rior sanctity he did not scruple to say, ^' the people that know 
not the law are accursed.'' In none of these instances was it, 
perhaps, the class-divisions or class-spirit alone which ultimately 
undermined the constitution of society. For class-divisions aa 
great, and a class-spirit' even more bitter, has been overcome in 
modem times, when the exclusiveness of selfish privilege had to 
cope with the struggles of a popular life sound at the core. But 

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dvilisaiion and Faith. 215 

in these cases it was not so. The life which struggled to ascend 
was as corrupt and more ignorant than the power which strug- 
gled to keep it down. The truth seems to have been that^ in the 
daasical world, whatever purity and vigour there was belonged 
mainly to the most favoured classes; the close contact of the 
poorest classes of freemen with slavery poisoning completely the 
social atmosphere they breathed. 

But though the wide class-chasms of the ancient world were 
not the main cause of the decay of ancient civilisation, yet the 
accumulation of each nation^s highest function, — in the case of 
Borne, political and llsgislative power, in that of Athens, intellec- 
tual and literary ability, in that of Judea, the dogmatic authority — 
in the hands of a small and imrecruited section of the nation, was 
a sure sign of a tendency to decay. Even Mr. Buckle feels this. 
The only hint he gives us of the cause to which he ascribes the 
decomposition of Greek and Boman society, is in the following 
words: ''The distance between the ignorant idolatry of the 
people and the refined system of the philosophers was altogether 
impassable; and this is the principal reason why the Greeks and 
Eomans were nnable to retain the civilisation which the^ for a 
short time possessed.'' No doubt ; but why was that distance 
impassable? It cannot in this case be ascribed merely to the 
unfortunate conditions of the physical world. It was due to the 
same predominance of selfishness, the same absence of noble am- 
bition and self-restraint, which we saw were the really active 
causes of the unequal distribution of wealth in tropical countries 
morally less favoured. The absence of any diffiising force to 
equalisie spiritual, moral, intellectual, and pnysical blessings, is 
the one slriking £act about these ancient civUisatioi^ ; or rather^ 
the presence of a steady selfish pressure and a steady stolid in- 
difference resitting their diffusion. We see great national gifts 
quickly appropriated by a class; we see that the other classes 
have not even virtue enough to desire, for any true and imselfish 
reasons^ a participation in those gifts. Surely it is evident that 
if civilisation is ever to be piuified and deepened, the purifying 
power must be applied deep beneath the surface of the physical 
and intellectual life, among those hidden springs where alone the 
desire to give and the desire to take such blessings as these can 
have its source. 

The second marked stage in the decay of the classical civili- 
sation was a visible relaxation of the naturalness and reserve of 
individual and domestic life amid that strong fermentation of 
national habits which accompanied the first conscious awakening 
of the social intellect of the commimity. In Athens towards 
the time of the Peloponnesian war, in Rome during the last cen- 
tury of the Republic, the life of general society drained all the 

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216 Civilisation and Faith. 

interior and independent strength of domestic and personal mo- 
rality ; and while increasing the splendour and literary activity of 
the social intellect, exhausted all the reserves of inward power 
from which the social intellect drew its life. It is no doubt the 
necessary tendency of all civilisation to drain off for general social 
purposes^ whether of public business or amusement^ the mental 
and moral energies which would otherwise find much of their 
natural exercise in individual and domestic life. The reserved 
strength is tempted outwards, often too rapidly for the health of 
the community, and social life becomes more vivid and brilliant 
at the expense of the ties which keep men in a narrower sphere. 
This process is of course much accelerated by the existence of 
slavery as an institution, especially in the form in which it ex- 
isted in the Greek and Roman world. A much larger number 
of citizens were thereby set free for the indolent life of the agora 
or the forum. The public intellect and sentiment grew rapidly 
under the process ; but it consumed the life by which it should 
have been constantly fed. At Athens the development of this 
process was especially rapid; and therefore the exhaustion of 
those narrower spheres of duly and self-discipline from which the 
public life was renewed was especially rapid also. Mr. Grote has 
shown, no doubt, how much public virtue remained in Athens 
after the traditions of private and domestic virtue had ceased to 
command general reverence. But even he cannot deny what 
Plato's dialogues incidentally prove, that, while so much gener- 
ous and ardent public impulse still lingered in the brilliant re- 
public, the deeper habits of private life were being poisoned from 
which those impulses could alone have drawn permanent strength.* 
The elasticity of their civilisation was giving way. The social 
life had still some nobility in it ; but the virtue and strength was 
rapidly drawing off from the interior reserves behind the social 
life. Whenever a calamity should come to shatter the general 
frame of society, there was no self-restoring power in the smaller 
elements of that society like that which so often enables semi- 
barbarous nations to recover from such a shock. It required 
but the concussion with a power so vigorous as Macedon to dis- 
organise the Athenian civilisation for ever. And what is true of 
Athens, is true at a later date of Rome. During the later Repub- 
lic, the class-barriers gave way; but no new and purer power was 
poured into the State. The sacred simplicity of the old domestic 
life was fast disappearing; slaves and slave-labour became more 

* Mr. Grote sajrs, that Plato's standard of criticism was as theoretic and 
dreamy for Athens as Mr. Owen's for London. As a political theorist, this may 
have been true. But we know what Plato's notions of license, and avarice, and 
fraud were ; and we know them to have been quite practical, and very far from 
strained. The facts Plato alleges as to the general private wickedness of Athena 
cannot therefore be reasoned awaj. 

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Civilisation and Faith. 217 

aad more profitable ; the free peasantry died away, or entered the 
army; the plebeians who rose into power degraded instead of 
invigorating the tone of public life ; they came from a class in 
close contact with slavery, and tainted with all its vices ; the 
small rural landed proprietors — almost the only respectable class 
left — ^were, as in almost all nations they generally are, an inac- 
tive-minded body of men, who influenced but little the social 
mind of the State, and though no doubt constituting a conserva- 
tive power, yet quite incompetent to resist the corrupting influ- 
ence of that slavery in the advantages of which they shared so 
largely: and thus, as in Athens, there was only weakness and 
corruption below to reinforce the decaying feith and simplicity 
of the ruling class. The nation was still great as a nation^ but 
the elements of its greatness were decomposing fast. The elastic 
force was giving way within. The Jews cannot be said ever to 
have reached this stage. The character of that "ignorant and 
barbarous^' people, as Mr. Buckle not untruly calls them, resisted 
too effectually the absorbent forces of social fife ever to be in any 
danger of losing individuality and the strength of private ties. 
The individual passions were so much stronger than the social 
passions — the ties of family, and tribe, and nation, were so much 
stronger than those of intellectual interest and social sentiment — 
that they perished suddenly and violently as a nation, in the first 
stage of selfish and passionate class-conflicts, without experi- 
encing the full dissolving power of selfish refinement on the na- 
tional vitality. And yet it was from them that Civilisation derived 
that which afterwards rendered it as durable as it had hitherto 
been shortlived in its most brilliant efforts. 

The last stage in the dissolution of the classical civilisations 
was that in which even the sense of social unity expired, and 
human nature may be said to have been almost dissolved again into 
the physical world, on which it had gradually become more and 
more grossly dependent. This was the stage in which the re- 
action of a small and helpless minority against the feebleness and 
degradation of the age became so loud and dei^pairing; when the 
dying civilisation of Rome fairly absorbed the dying civilisation 
of Greece; and because it had lived a stronger and hardier life, 
struggled harder at last against a harder death. Every symp- 
tom of political and social rottenness showed that the selfishness 
which had corrupted civilisation had at length destroyed it by 
reducing it to its lowest form, — the unrestrained subordination of 
the arts, of literature, of government, of social life, in short, of 
all the powers of man, to physical excitements, or the intellectual 
justification of physical excitements. The remaining teachers of 
the world fed men with empty words, the husks of thought; and 
their pupils learned to feed themselves gladly on the husks of 

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318 CiriUsatUm and Faith. 

things f ''the food that the swine did eat/' That spurioos 
school of philosophy that called itself Neo-Platonic attempted 
to show its reyerence for the noblest and the most spacious in* 
tellect the world has ever known by stretching those few pro- 
blems as to our human faculties which Plato had left as indeter- 
nodnate till they covered with doubt all those fer greater problems 
of which he had determined the solution; in short^by presenting his 
solutions as the only difficulties^ and stating his difficulties as the 
only solutions. When the Neo-Platonist Cameades proved to the 
wondering youth of Bome that the most opposite moral convic- 
tions were equally true and equally fake, no wonder that the old 
Boman censor had an indistinct feeling that Bome had never 
got hpr iron hold of the world by building on such sand as that; 
and no wonder that he asserted that the reception of such a 
creed (if it could be received) must undermine the empire. But 
even then it wm undermined, and social corruption was making 
room for the intellectual unreality by which it is always followed. 
The young Bomans drank in the verbiage of the Greek schools, 
and were now and then startled by the n^^tive wisdom of the 
Stoic reaction. But even an Epictetus was a poor remedy for 
a Domitian ; and in (^er to prevent the inordinate growth of 
human desire from resolving man back again into the literal 
dust of the earth, it required the intervention of a mightier faith 
than Stoicism^ and stronger representatives than either Aurelius 
or Julian. And when, after the Christian faith had been preached 
for centuries, Justinian at length abolished together the nominal 
consulship of Bome and the schools of Athens, he did but take away 
what had long been the mere monuments of two extinct civilisa- 
tions ; for the foith of Christ had long proved itself stronger to 
eonstruct civil order than Bome under her strongest consul, and 
more powerful to cope with the intoxicating selfishness of human 
society than the Academy under its greatest teacher. The wonder- 
ful political shell of the great Boman system had been entered 
and appropriated by a more enduring power ; and the wonderful 
intellectual shell of the great Platonic system had been entered 
and appropriated by a more enduring genius. 

We see, then, that civilisation — or the tendency which draws 
men into wider and more varied social intercourse — has no charter 
of indemnity against the morally corrupting influences which exist 
in uncivilised and civilised man alike, but rather that they act 
more powerfully through social channels. There are three marked 
stages in which these influences have been seen to disturb and 
decompose the social fabric which civilisation forms. First, the 
selfish desires of man resist the natural distribution of the phy- 
sical, intellectual, nay, even the moral and spiritual, blessings that 
civilisation brings, and create the wide class-chasms of the first 

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CiviUgaiion and Eaith. 219 

aiti^e of civiUsntioQ. Next^ if these are broken dawn^ the flame 
disease haa flhovn itself in exaggerating^ if we may so saj^ the 
socialising foree itself^ aad tempting men away from those inner 
spheres of life in which their fitness for society is formed^ and thus 
sacrificing individttal, domestic^ and local obligations to a wider 
and more stiperfioiaiy though more intoxicating, class of influences. 
And lastly, there is the stage in which society, thus decomposed 
within, becomes a social body without a sonl^ and recognising 
selfish need as its only remaining bond, gradually breaks up into 
destructire anarchy, and resigns back again to a state &r worse 
than any barbarism, those whom it could never have drawn toge- 
ther at all but for their recognition of some higher law. 

It is strange indeed, with sudh a history as this before him, 
that Mr. Buckle can suppose intellectual activity to be the real 
dynamics of society,--<Lrawing men from barbarism into civilisa- 
tion. Was there ever a day or a people whose intellectnal ac- 
tivity was so marvellous, or the attempts of philosopliy so full of 
promise, as in Greece in the ti^i^ of Armtotle and Plato? Th^ 
Greeks had the inductive method on which modem science builds 
so much ; and Mr. Grdte hail told us what a revolution its first 
application by Socrates caused in the world of thought. They 
had the deductivo method with which to vefnfarce and extend the 
results of inductions. They used both with brilliant success^ 
True, rq)lies our author, but there was no diffimon; the knoww 
ledge was not among the people, it was not the atmosphere they 
breathed, but in a separaite stratum of society. What is this but to 
say that intellectual activity, taken alone, has no di&sive force 
adequate to its task of civilising man, — that it has not within 
itself any principle of contagion so strong as to ^' find its own 
leveP^ in the great human society, — ^that it does not kindle, even 
in those of whom it does take strong hold, any enthusiasm for 
the work of carrying it abroad to the minds of the dull, the in-^ 
different, and the igporant lover of pleasm-e, — in short, that, as 
is the case with physical wealth, the ordinary forces of human 
nature tend to accumulate it in fixed masses, not to spread it 
equally over the race? But if intellectual activity does not 
counteract the selfish iq)irit of monopoly and the selfish spirit 
of inertia in human nature, far less does it counteract the 
other tendencies which we have noted in the decomposing stages 
of civilisation. The history of the revival of learning in Florence 
and Rome in the days of the Medicis would alone show, if the 
civilisation of Athens were not a sufficient example, how brilliant 
intellectual activity mav in itself even aid that absorbing in- 
toxication of society which trenches upon the strength of in- 
dividual character, and breaks up the minuter circles and weakens 
the more primitive bonds of family life. It provides a common 

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220 Civilisation and Faith. 

source of enjoyment fitted for a wide social field, draws men out 
of their own narrow field of experience, and distracts them fix)m 
haimting memories of broken purposes and neglected claims, just 
because it is not mere hoUowness, because it is not so easily ex- 
hausted, as mere artificial social life. Nevertheless it fails utterly 
as a permanent bond even of the outer framework of society at 
large. For the passions, which it does not even strive to re- 
press, soon snap the slender threads of intellectual esteem and 
sympathy; and the intellect is soon got under by coarser forces, 
from its pure lack of power to hold the reins of the mind. 

The utter incoherence of all states of society in which the 
only unity was intellectual, is an historical fact which Mr. Buckle 
apparently regards as accidental. His three counter-statements 
appear to be — (1) that if civilisation require any other than an 
intellectual aid, the matter is hopeless, as religion, and every 
thing indeed except scientific truth, contracts immediately to 
the moral dimensions of the people to whom it is brought ; (2) 
that what our author terms the greatest evils of the world's 
history, war and persecution on account of private opinion, have 
been lessened by the intellect, and by it alone — while the one 
has been fostered, the other almost produced, by religious faith ; 
and (3) that in point of fact the periods of most rapidly ad- 
vancing civilisation in nciodem history have been periods of scep- 
tical inquiry. Here is a general issue enough, which no one who 
has a tenth part of Mr. Buckle's knowledge, without his somewhat 
antiquated prejudice for the mild gospel of the enlightened un- 
derstanding, would hesitate for a moment to accept. He is per- 
haps nearly the only learned and moderately able thinker of the 
present day who still believes implicitly that '^ calm inquiry'* 
is the one remedy for the manifold sins and miseries of social 
existence;* who still regards war as unmixed evil, and cannot 
see what a purifying discipline it may prove for deeper ills ; or 
who would compare for a moment the evils of dogmatic persecu- 
tion, frightful as they have been and are, with the putrid diseases 
of some really intellectual and many non-persecuting civilisations. 
If Mr. Buckle indeed thinks, as he would seem to think, that 
Marcus Aurelius and Julian were more mischievous to the civi- 
lisation of their day than Commodus and Heliogabalus, simply 
because the former were persecutors and the latter were not, we 
find his moral measure of things so totally different from our 
own, that there is scarcely a common basis for discussion.f 

* Mr. Buckle's mild dogmatism is often very amusing. After a thin argu- 
ment, demonstrating that intellectual excellence is "far more productive of real 
good" than moral excellence, he adds naively, ** These conclusions are no doubt 
very unpalatable ; and what makes them peculiarly offensive is, that it is impos- 
sible to refute them." 

t See pp. 167, 168 : '* There is no instance on record of an ignorant man who, 

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Civilisation and Faith. 221 

Mr. Buckle's first plea, that faith, as a civilising agent, is 
zero; that it is not, and cannot be, a plus quantity in the agencies 
of the world at all; that it so immediately contracts to the shape 
and quality of the minds it enters as to become whatever they 
already are, no more and no less, — ^is not easy to refute, except by 
the facts of history. It arises, however, in the confusion, which 
is completely ingrained into Mr. Buckle's book, between an 
opinion and a trust. He would not deny, we imagine, that a 
real reliance, a leaning on a higher human being, — a being 
morally and spiritually higher than ourselves,- — does affect the 
character, and draws it up towards that higher mind. It is be- 
cause he regards a faith as a mere moral and intellectual product 
of the state of mind, spun like the spider's web out of the mind, 
that he doubts this in r^ard to religion. He would be very 
much surprised to hear it argued, that his own sympathy with, 
and reverence for, a friend could not change him, on the ground 
that his firiend's image must be immediately coloured and af- 
fected with all his own characteristics of thought. He would 
reply at once, that if so, individual and social life are the same; 
that no man can change society, and that society can change no 
man. And yet that is his argument concerning religious trust ; 
although, as is evident from one part of his book, he does not 
question the real existence of the object of faith. 

But the only effectual answer to Mr, Buckle's argument, that 
Christian faith could not have done any thing for civilisation, is 
to take a little evidence as to what it did. He will scarcely deny 
that it did something for the societies of the early Christian 
church ; that it did something for St. Paul, for instance, and for 
some of his followers. Finding such a society as we have de- 
scribed, during the downfall of Greek and Roman civilisation ; 
finding a society stained by vices such as those with which Co- 
rinth and Rome were but too familiar, as we do not need St. 
Paul's letters to testify ; finding a decaying body, full of all rot- 
tenness, — his faith restored to it, in St. Pcuil's mind and that of 
his disciples, a spiritual unity, a new life, a cohering power, 
which no human shock could destroy. Society reassumed, 
through their new trust, so far as their influence reached it, the 

baring ^ood intentions, and supreme power to enforce them, has not done fiir 
more evil than good. But if you diminish the sincerity of that man, if you can mix 
some alloy with his motiTe8,you will likewise diminieh the evil that he works." And 
then Mr. Buckle instances the cases above mentiooed. We do not suppose he 
means to weigh Aurelius and Julian, in their whole personal influence, against 
Gommodus and Heliogabalus ; but unless he means to weigh their respective in- 
fluence on civilisation, there is no point or meaning in the illustration. There can 
be no doubt that the pure lives of Marcus Aurelius and Julian really did fiur 
more for Christianity, by showing the moral exhaustioB of the noblest pagan phi- 
losophy, than they could possibly have effected had not their lives been so strenu- 
ous and faithful to their own standard. 

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iSd3 CkrilisaHM ttnd Faith. 

unity it had lost ; and St. Paul speaks of the various members 
of the ''one bodj'^ as though he had i^ain forgotten the titter oor* 
ruptnesB he had so often alluded to, in the profligate Qreek citjr 
to which he writes. The mere opening of a few Christian hearts 
to the trust that, amid all this concision and evil, men were stdl 
capable of doing the will and reoeiring the purifying power of 
6od, gacve the system of society a new strength and soundness^ 
and enabled them gradually to withdraw their life fiom the slavery 
to social impurities, in which they had pfamged the deeper tiiat 
they could never appease their hunger for something deeper and 
more exciting still. This sudden access of religious fervour^ 
Mr. Buckle might say, is a well-known phenomenon, — ^the fa-i 
natidsm of the world's reaction from its own exoeases, assuming 
tiie form of a strict and visionary frotenuty* No doubt; but 
nevertheless the phenomenon had a vitality ; for finom that time 
tiie history of sooal decay was measured back again in the re* 
verse order. First, the social bond was renovated, assuming 
a purely religious oharacter, and ofteii renovated even at a ten^ 
p0rary expense of other ties ; then those other ties weare gnu 
dually purified and stcengthened ; lastly, obsa-^divisions were 
softened and shaded away. But, first dt aU, the new religknis 
eoustitution of society bore down almost all other ties before 
it: ''Those of one house were divided, ihe mother against her 
daughter-in-law, and the daughter against her motfaer-inJaw.'' 
Seculaor social relations^ too, were left untouched. This new hS3i 
had not yet strength to ^remodel the old civil ties on a new prin<( 
oiple, or even to recogmse their essential importance to the 
healthy action of social life. But when the religious tie became 
firm and indissoluble. Christian fidth inevitably busied itself with 
the general secular relations of men, alleviating soonest those 
that were most obviously oppressive, recognising least completely 
the divine character of those that were most spoiled indeed, but 
spoiled by no outward wrong, and remediable ratiier by intemai 
than by external influence. The Churdi soon became the richest 
power in the community, and v^ soon, therefore, possessed a 
large proportion of the slaves: she was the kindest power, and 
therefore soon raised their condition above that of slaves. A re* 
cent writer thus describes this state of things : 

<' She became rich ; and her riches were not only calculated in pro- 
vinceSy but in hundreds of thousands of human beings. These bein«s 
were chained to her will as they had been chained to that of the B^ 
man patrician or Frankish chiei^ who had bought them at Treves 
or London. She did not, however, manumit ; for she could not do 
so without destroying the value of the property she had acquired 
Her lands were worthless without cultivators ; and none but slaves 
were left or adapted for that work. She, however, gave an earnest 

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OfDilisoHm and Faith. iSA 

ibat they Iiad fallen into better bands, by amelioraHng their servitude. 
Bbe treated them mildly, remitted labour on Sunday, and brought the 

posBibility of freedom irithin rdach She began to teaoh boldly 

that the difference between the serf or slave and the proprietor wai a 
social difference only ; that the eternal particle of each was of equal 
vvhie; and salvation, unlike worldly honour, was to be won by 
means which the slave, as well as the baron, could command. Her 
teachings were followed by actions. She began to plead the cause 
of the slave in her councils. At Orleans, in 538, she directs that serfs 
who have sought the church as an asylum against Jewish master?^ 
shall be bought, not restored. Again, d41, if Christian slaves of the 
Jews have fled their masters and demanded liberty, having given just 
price, they shall be set at liberty. In the same council it is ordained 
that if a bishop has made a number of ^e men from serfs of the 
Church, they shall remain frfee. At Qermont, in 549, * As we have 
discovered th&t several people reduce again to servitude those who 
have been set at Hb^y in the churches, we order that every one shidi 
isoep possession of the liberty he has received j and if this fiberty 
is aMaoked, justiee must bd ddfended by the Church.' In the canons 
of a coimeil at London, in 1 102j it is ovdered thali ' no one from heooe^ 
forth presume to carry on that wicked traffic, by T^ch men in Eng^ 
jiaad have hitherto beepa sold like brute animals.' "* 

But it was not simply tbat Christian fiaith wdrked back frdm 
the reH]gioiis renovation of the soeiftl tie to the renewal of secokr 
ties j it gave a new Kfe to that very lite4*ature which in Greece 
and Bon^ had died oat from inandtio^ '' If institutionB covild 
do all,'* says M. Gnitt)t, coniraaiing the state rf the civil or pagan 
with tbat of the Christian ofr religious society of Qanl in the 
fotirth and fifth centuries, '^the inteUectuid 9tate of Gaulish 
dvnl society at this epoch would have been far superior to that 
of the religious society. . . . Roman Gaul was covered ^i<h large 
schools. . .They were tanght philosophy, medicine, juriqp!mde!ttce^ 
literature, graamnar, astiDlogy, aU the sciences of the age.*' The 
Christians, he says, ** had only theii^ own ideas, the internal and 
personal movement of their thonght/' ''Still the activity and 
intellectual strength of the t^o societies were prodigionsly tin- 
equal. With its institutions, it* professorsi its privileges, the 
one was nothing and did nothing,---with its single itteas the 
oltier incessantly laboured, and seiacd every thing. All things 
in the fifth century attest the decay of the 6ivil schools. The 
contemporary writers, Sidonins ApoUinaris and Mamertius Clan^ 
dianus, for example, deplore it in every page^ saying tiiat the 
young men no longer studied, l^iat professions were wrthoot pu- 
pils, that science languished and was being lost.**' Compare with 
this the same writer's remarkatile account of the healthy vigour 

* Influence ^f Christianity on Civilisation. By Thomas Craddock. X/ong- 
ihatiB^ 1856. 

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224 Civilisation and Faith, 

of Christiaii literature at the same time. There is no truer sign 
of the health of literature than this^ — that its deepest things 
come out quite incidentally in the discussion of occasional ques- 
tions. Then^ and then only^ can we be sure that they constantly 
occupy the mind. *' Literature, properly so called, held but 
little place in the Christian world ; men wrote very little for the 
sake of writing, for the mere pleasure of manifesting their ideas; 
some event broke forth, a question arose, and a book was often 
produced under the form of a letter to a Christian, to a friend, 
to a church. Politics, religion, controversy, spiritual and tem- 
poral interests, general and special councils, — all are met with 
in the letters of this time ; and they are among the number of its 
most curious documents." 

Now, does Mr. Buckle conceive that this is the picture of 
a life utterly unchanged by faith? Wherever we look, — to 
the decayed JKoman, decayed Greek, or undecayed barbarian 
world, — the picture is the same — a new society, new morality, 
new institutions, new literature. The e£Pete Greek philosophy 
takes a new life and power in the pages of Justin, Clement, and 
Origen. The elBTete Roman eloquence gives out a new warmth 
of conviction in Lactantius, and a new Roman force in Am- 
brose. Even the tropical African blood that beats passionately 
in the gross and virulent invectives of Tertullian, does not ui^ 
him to seek the conflicts of civil life ; £br he feels that the most 
real passions of that day, as well as its most real thoughts, con- 
cern the spiritual world, and touch eternity more than time. 
And here in Gaul it is still in the Christian church that the bar- 
barians are learning eagerly and fast, while the Roman aristo- 
cracy are rapidly deserting the schools. Here is little enough 
sign that civilisation arises in intellectual activity. The new 
faith steals away Greek and Roman from their hollow intel- 
lectual discipline, and the barbarian from his servile toil; and 
after it has united them in a religious society, begins to organise 
a new law. It holds back the hand of the master ; it stirs up 
the lethal^ of the serf; and not only remodels the relations 
between the powerful and the poor, but opens their minds by a 
new literature. If this be the spontaneous progress of the popidar 
mind, why did it not arise in the Roman schools ? why did it not 
start from the last antecedents of the old world ? why did it not 
build on the old foundations ? Because men believed in a new 
bond, because they had a new vision. The "life'' had been 
'^ manifested,'' they said ; and they saw it. And much as they 
degraded and narrowed what they beheld, in the process of giving 
it the form of a practical creed, yet their trust was living enoij^h 
to give it an influence on their life. The change was slow, and 
often retrograde; and after the outward church had given 

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Cmlisatton and Faith. 225 

much^ she began to take away. She had had faith to loosen 
and dissolve some of the most galling oppressions of secular so- 
ciety ; and now secular society had gained faith to loosen and 
dissolve the most galling oppressions of the church. In the 
North at leasts Luther restored to political^ secular^ and family 
life the freedom^ and ultimately the sacrediiess^ of which Hilde- 
hrand and the sacerdotalists had striven to cob it. Nor was it 
intellectual activity which gave the strength for this encounter. 
In Italy^ where opinion first became heretical^ the moral scepti- 
cism and license had too much undermined social courage to admit 
of a revolt; and in Germany^ when the conflict came^ — the intel- 
lect was not the assailant. Long before Luther's time a religious 
fraternity had arisen in Germany, free rather in the freedom of 
their religious affections than in any audacity of thought. Nor 
could Luther have moved Germany as he did but for the moral 
and devotional reaction from formal and legal religion nourished 
in the popular school of Bonaventura, Gerson, and Tauler.* 
The assertion that all the civilisation of the last few centuries in 
England and abroad is due to sceptical inquiry is a mere confu- 
sion of terms. No doubt it is due to that sort of scepticism 
which challenges foreign and arbitrary authority to impose its 
dictum either as to right or truth on the human mind ; but this 
is a scepticism rooted in a profound trust that self-attesting 
truth and right are accessible to human conscience and reason. 
When Mr. Buckle classes scepticism like that of Hobbes and 
Montaigne with scepticism like that of ChiUingworth^ or Locke, 
or even Bentham, he uses the same terms to denote opposite 
states of mind. The implicit belief of Locke and his school, 
and of many even of the grossest utilitarians in the absolute 
reality and attainability of truth, is utterly unsceptical. The 
one-sided and short-sighted externality of their views may have 
involved intellectual denials ; but their method, their eagerness, 
their profound conviction that something was coming, is of the 
very essence of trust. The truly and profoundly sceptical schools 
are those of Hume and Montaigne, — schools founded in the belief 
that there is '^ nothing new, and nothing true, and no matter.^' 
And where or when was this ever found to be a bond of civilisa- 
tion, or any thing but a source of indolence, apathy, and there- 
fore of rapid corruption? Could Luther have done his work at 
all on Montaigne's moral groimd ? Was there ever yet a great 
social revolution effected in the face of such a storm without the 
help of the faith which carried Luther through? 

Mr. Buckle's assertion, that faith has often fed dogmatism, 

* Hallam's Literature of the Fifleenthy Shieentk, and Seventeenth Centurite, 
vol. i. p. 135. 

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226 CiMisation and Fatih. 

and sometimes leads to a military-despotic tone of mind^ is true 
enough; and yet would seem strange enough at first sight. It 
would seem that nothing has so much tendency to frame a weak 
and ill-knitted socialism as the fervour of religious piety : yet it 
actually drew together the strongest, widest, and most elastic sys- 
tem of society the world has ever seen. While it purified society, 
it gave it radiating, centres of strength. Instead of making the 
individual members of the social body lean too much on the gie- 
neral society, as is the case with all other socialisms, the general 
society received all its strength from the innumerable and impreg- 
nable spiritual strongholds which were garrisoned for it every 
where by a mere handful of sentinels. It was a system in which 
all the moral nerve that had left the old civilisations was suddenly 
restored a thousandfold. The new trust not only gave social 
strength, but solitary strength — strength to the smallest groups 
in a proportion as fuU as it gave to the largest. And this strength 
of trust often became confidence, audacity, zeal, intolerable dog- 
matism, iron cruelty. In truth, it gave all the military virtues ; 
and these were often fostered into military vices. The process is 
clear enough. Men did not doubt, they knew that God was rul- 
ing the world and them. They leaned upon Him ; they knew that 
He was. There is nothing that gives such edge, such keenness, 
such promptitude, to self-convictions of right and wrong as t^is. 
Till you believe that Gk)d is in you, you do not feel clear about 
your own convictions at all ; you will take any one^s word that 
you are right, any one^s word that you are wrong, however much 
it confuses the simple undefined perceptions of your heart ; you 
hope that you believe, you believe that you think, you think 
that you feel. All is in a mist. Any one s word is better than 
your own, for it adds more to the confusion. Suddenly trust 
comes ; and then, " if your heart condemns you, God is greater 
than your heart, and knoweth aU things,^^ It is a word of com- 
mand ; if a rebuke, it is an inevitable condemnation, — a sentence 
to be executed and accepted. Every sentence that fiashes through 
the heart is written also in the heavens ; and, even if the sentence 
here is but half- legible, still elsewhere — with God — it is clear as 
the sun. Here is the foundation of every military virtue, — of 
that instant and unflinching obedience, that sense that death 
itself is service, that uncriticising attitude of mind towards the 
superior, that severity of expectation from yourself and your 
subordinate, — ^which is the essence of manly conflict. And only 
add to it blind confidence that your conscience and spirit is the 
measure of every other man^s ; that you may judge for him what it 
is written for him t6 do, — and you have all the horrors of bigotry 
of which Mr. Buckle speaks as one of the two worst evils of hu- 
man society. If evil be measured by suflering, no doubt it is evil 

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Civilisation and Faith. 227 

enough; but the most pitiless* persecutor, who identifies for the 
time his own cruel will with that of God, strikes less severely at 
civilisation than many who help to spread the infection of a soft 
sneering renunciation of all law except the law of selfish pleasure. 
But fortunately there is no need to choose between the two. 
The highest trust essentially gives decision and sharpness, deter- 
mination, — spring, in short, to civilisation : but not in any way at 
the expense of liberty ; for in its most personal form it is incon- 
sistent with judging others. The humility it cannot help inspir- 
ing, saves it from persecuting rigour. No era of intense personal 
trust has been a persecuting period. St. Paul persecuted while 
he was in the old pharisaic stage of belief in a rigid system ; but 
trust in a living person made him the most large-minded of men. 
The most genuine school of personal religion throughout the his- 
tory of the catholic church, up to the time of Fenelon and Madame 
Guyon, has been the school with a bias to mysticism — a school 
noted for its humility and charity. Dogmatism is utterly incon- 
sistent with a living trust; for it believes that it is saved by the 
anxious elaboration of connected views ; and only dogmatists have 
ever been persecutors. And yet we imagine the average '^mystic/' 
George Fox, tor example, who was far from enlightened, would 
be the very pattern Mr. Buckle desires of an ignorant and holy 
faith. It is only at the point where faith transcends the limits of 
its own experience, — the limits of personal trust, — ^that it hardens 
into a dogmatic standard for the belief of others. 

Mr. Buckleys book is one of encyclopaedic learning and great 
general ability. If we have seemed to depreciate it, it is only be- 
cause we have dealt rather with the philosophy than the history ; 
and that does seem to us pale, shallow, and almost pompous. But 
the power of seeing the right facts to classify, and the power of 
classifying them, which the book contains, gives much promise for 
the ability of the work as a whole. The great want of the book is 
a little more human nature ; it is humane, but not human, and 
smiles on men and nations with the sort of benignity with which a 
kind-hearted person treats tame domestic animals. Mr. Buckle 
has no kind of perception how frightftdly dull a thing civilisation 
would be if it were what he describes. The refutation of the 
main error of the book lies within the compass of every man^s 
own nature. We know what it is that civilises us ; and we know 
what it is in us that resists civilisation. Intellectual activity does 
neither the one nor the other. It is merely the instrument of 
discoveries which heighten social influences a thousandfold both 
for good and for evil. Railways and telegi;p.phs would not be 
fi^ed much, we think, by pure intellects, though they had been 
invented by them. And were the intellect the overmastering 
power Mr. Buckle believes, the volcanic forces that tend so con- 

; Drc!itEegl6rVjypQlC 

228 The Monetary Crisis. 

Btantly to break up social unities vould not be possible. In fact, 
without the bond of a common trust, civilisation would be unen- 
durable by strong minds, and would enslave weak minds. The 
fever of society, its superficial courtesies, its external smothering 
of passions which it gives no spiritual power to restrain, its half- 
latent pressure of opinion, its unsatisfying intercourse, its glimpses 
of higher things, would far oftener draw men into solitude, but 
for that faith which not only gives access to an eternal solitude, 
but habituates them to see in faint signs the images of deeper 
realities, and to recognise the apparently shallow channels of 
social life, as conveying to them an influence which is not mea- 
sured by the light action and the passing word. 


Bepartjrom the Select Committee on the Bank Acts ; t4>gether with 
the Proceedings of the Committee^ Minutes qfJBvidenee, Appen* 
dixj and Index. Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed- 
July 80, 1867. 

Debate in the House of Lords on the Bank-Issues Indemnity Billj 
on the 11th December 1857. Reported in Hhnes Newspaper of 
December 12th. 

Debate in the House of Commons on the BeappointmefU of the Bank^ 
Charter Committeey on the same day, and reported in the same 

For once the serious attention of business-men is applied to 
the subject of the currency. The recent commercial crisis, 
bringing anxiety to all active merchants ; the failure of many 
houses believed to be solvent, and of some who really were so ; 
the suspension of the act of 1844, which, being a repetition of 
what happened in 1847, looks, to say the least, like an indica- 
tion of detect in that famous piece of legislation, — ^these circum- 
stances and others have called to the topic of the currency the 
real minds of many who generally regard it as the peculium 
of dry economists, and the puzzle of captious speculator& In 
Lombard Street, on Thursday the 12th of November, there was 
no denying that the bank-note question was a practical one. 
Some months ago, a parliamentary committee elaborately in- 
vestigated much of the subject : it was curious to compare 
the listless curiosity of its speculative interest with the eager 
queries,—" Will the act be upset?" " What will the Govem- 

''- '\: : : Digitized by VjOOQIC 

The Monetary Crisis. 229 

ment do V " Is the Governor come back from Downing 
Street?" , 

This crisis throws a more remarkable light on our banking 
practice and currency legislation, because it does not seem to 
be the result of any circumstances so peculiar that we may not 
often expect to see others of which the effects may be the same. 
The circumstances of 1847 have been put aside of late years 
as exceptional. The extreme errors of the Bank directors, the 
railway mania, the bad harvest, were singularities of that 
time, and might never be expected to recur ; at least, not all of 
them at one time, or in so aggravated a form. The present 
year has no such peculiar features. Our domestic trade — the 
trades of banking and money-dealing perhaps in part excepted 
— is, on the whole, sound.* Considering the enormous deve- 
lopment which our commerce, whether of export or import, has 
recently undergone, few thoughtful men looked without some 
apprehension at the probability of a severe pressure. Most of 
them perhaps really anticipated a good many mercantile fail- 
ures from domestic and personal causes. There have scarcely 
been any; of large firms exceedingly few. The trade of two 
important foreign markets has been deranged by circumstances 
peculiar to them; we have been affected, naturally and inevit- 
ably, by these derangements; but, except among a few bill- 
brokers and money-lending companies, no one,, even with the 
acute anger of disappointed theory, has been able to find blam- 
able error in our national trade. 

The time is not yet come for attempting to estimate or ana- 
lyse the causes of the American panic, or of the extensive fail- 
ures in the North of Europe. We have hardly as yet the facts 
before us. We have enough to refute a few old popular falla- 
cies. We know that they did not arise from any excess of 
paper currency; for in Hamburg, where the disasters have been 
greater than any where else, they have a pure metallic currency; 
and in New York, which seems the centre of the monetary dis- 
asters of America, it has been proved by figures that there was 
no extension of the bank circulation of any importance at alLf 

* The chief exception to the remark that our trade is of itself sound, occurs 
in the houses connected with the North of Europe, who, contrary to what miffht 
have been expected, have not stood so well as the American houses. This 
exception is not, howerer, one of sufficient importance to aflect our general 

t The EeonomiMt of the 2Sth Norember 1857 gives the following figures as 
representing the state of the Kew-York banks at their respectire dates : 

Capital. Clrcnlation. Specie. 

August 1847 43,214,000 25,098,000 11,98d,0v0 

June 1856 92,334,000 30,705 000 18,510,000 

September 1857 107,507,000 27,122,000 14,321,(K)0 

Tet many considerate persons still impute the disasters of the country to tho 

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280 Tlie Monetary Crisis. 

Our knowledge is only as yet, however, sufficient for the pur* 
poses of refutation ; we do not know enough to advance a com- 
prehensive and positive theory. We clearly discern, however, 
that the trade of the North of Europe has been conducted for 
a very considerable period on a most unwholesome system of 
fictitious credit Houses in Hamburg have given their names 
to acceptances for which they did not know what was the equi- 
valent — for which, in point of fact, there was no equivalent. 
These acceptances were discounted on the faith of the acceptor \ 
and, though with changes of amount and detail, in reality re- 
newed whenever they became due. The acceptor of course ran 
a great risk, as his liability was for a very large sum ; but he 
considered that he was remunerated by a commission, of which 
doubtless the proceeds were considerable. Every system of re- 
newed acceptance is, however, unpleasantlv affected by a tight- 
ness in the discount market : the old bill becomes due with 
an unfailing rapidity, but the new bill which is to replace it 
can only be discounted slowly, after a hesitation, after a conver- 
sation with the banker — in the end, cannot be discounted at all. 
Such a pressure in the discount market was produced at Ham- 
burg by the continued drain of silver to the East — silver being 
there the standard of value and the metal stored as bullion — 
and by the American panic, which largely affected the conti- 
nental city most immediately connected with the Transatlantic 
trade. After all that has been said of the ''dashing'' system 
of Liverpool trade, after every concession to the opponents of 
''rediscount" and "fictitious" bills, it is nevertheless not with- 
out pride that we may compare the consequences of the Ameri- 
can panic on the North of England with its effects at Ham- 
burg. The stability of Liverpool, Manchester, and of the vast 
industrial region which is situated round them, can only be 
explained by a generally sound state of industry. At what 
former period could a great failure of remittances, a great con- 
traction of accommodation, a ten-per-cent rate of discountj have 
been borne by the most enterprising of our traders with so few 
disasters ? We can only hope that the next time an American 
panic occurs, it may find us equally well prepared ; very much 
better, we fear, looking to the past experience of commerce, 
it would be over-sanguine to expect That panics will occur 
every now and then in many of the countries with which in 
our ramified trade we largely deal, it is impossible to question. 
We may not in many cases be able to trace them by very indis- 

mUmanagement of the currency. £ren Mr. Cardwell, in the debate on the reap- 
pointment of the Bank Committee, allowed himself to use laneuage which would 
convey such an impression: "Yon have gone through a j^reat disaster, emanating 
from a country, let it never be forgotten, that has this conrertible currency, every 
bank of whioh has suspended payment," &o. — TVaies, Saturday, December I2th« 

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The Monetary Crisis. 231 

putable reasoning to causes we know to be real : at the present 
moment there is a mist oyer the whole topic of the American 
disasters ; we indistinctly discern a vast series of investments 
in railways, hastily planned, and still more hastily made ; we 
think we can see that an incautious course of Imnking has very 
extensively aided these over-rapid efforts. Thus, though we 
are suffering from the effects of the disease, we have not yet 
been able to set forth in facts and figures an accurate descrip- 
tion of its causes. The point, however, which it behoves us espe- 
cially to have in our minds, is that neither at Hambui^ nor in 
America have any events happened so singular or out of the 
common course of mercantile things that we can be sure of 
their not happening again, — that we cannot reasonably antici- 
pate any thing but an occasional repetition of them, either in 
the same places or in others, — that we must settle our mercan- 
tile usage, our banking practice, our currency laws, to suit the 
recurrence, not unfrequently, of events very similar and as dan- 

If we look attentively at these subjects, as the very great 
importance of these remarks should incline us seriously to do, 
we shall perhfips be struck by two conspicuous facts, — the de- 
velopment in this country of an extensive — possibly a too ex- 
tensive — system of credit, and the existence of a law which 
aggravates all disturbances and hesitations in that system of 

Nothing can strike the mind of an observer, who can suf- 
ficiently abstract his thoughts from the crowding detail of affairs 
to be alive to the just impression of great facts, more than the 
slight effect which the recent monetary panic, which we have seen 
pass like an epidemic across the two sides of the Atlantic, has 
produced on the trade of France. This time last year we heard 
many complaints that the imperial government, its stock-job- 
bing courtiers, the Crsdit Mohilier, had produced a state of things 
in that country fraught with danger to Eutopean nations. At 
that period we took occasion to show, that though these accu- 
sations by no means appeared to be without a foundation, yet 
that the speculative temper so induced did not penetrate very 
deep into the country, and that its common and legitimate com- 
merce was in all likelihood sound. The trial has come, and the 
truth has been found to be so. In fact, the trade of France is, 
as compared with the trade of more enterprising nations, so 
strictly a ready-money trade, that it is not possible to create any 
wild panic among those who are concerned in it If you trust 
no one, you need not be in a fright as to those you trust : the 
deferred payment for extensive purchases is the primitive ele- 
ment of commercial credit ; it is this which creates bills of ex- 

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232 The Monetary Crisis. 

change, promissory notes, drawings, indorsements : where that 
element does not exist, there is no occasion for credit and con- 
fidence ; every thing is settled at the time. The same is the 
case with lending and borrowing. Where every body keeps his 
own money, no one need be alarmed, or need care as to the sol- 
vency of those around him. All banking, as well as all '* the in- 
dustry of credit," is based on trust The revolutions which have 
been so frequent in France, by inevitably disturbing all contem- 
plated transactions, have been so fatal to this essential con- 
fidence, that no ramified system of commercial credit has ever 
grown up there. Something too — such at least was the doctrine 
of Burke— of a timorous and peddling spirit may lurk in the 
recesses of the national character. At any rate, the result is 
certain ; the trade of France is so little based upon borrowing 
or trust, that it is not exposed to a panic such as Lombard Street 
and Wall Street have experienced. 

Our own system of commerce is precisely the reverse. A 
certain energy of enterprise is the life of England. Our buoyant 
temperament drives us into action ; our firm judgment makes us 
steady in real danger ; our stolid courage is inapprehensive of 
fanciful risk ; an impassive want of enjoyment in that which 
we are prompts us to try to be better, than we are. Accordingly 
our commercial men have for years been prone to great under- 
takings ; possibly there may not be in the world at this moment 
a single large and adventurous speculation in which there is not 
some sum o{ Anplo-Saxon capital. The probity which, after 
every deduction, is really, as compared with most active nations, 
a conspicuous feature in the English character, has enabled us 
to aid our enterprises by a vast and elaborate system of credit, 
based on defined trust, and tested by verified anticipation. 
Both of the two elements of commercial credit, of which we 
have just spoken incidentally, exist among us to a greater extent 
than any where else in Europe. A deferred payment for large 
purchases is more general than elsewhere ; wholesale dealers, as 
a rule, give and take very large credit Our borrowing and 
banking systems draw from the pockets of the people every six- 
pence which is not wanted at once ; and place it, through the 
intervention of bankers and brokers, at the command of the mer- 
cantile and active community. So deeply has this penetrated 
among the mercantile community, as to have become, perhaps 
even to a perilous extent, the habit of the money-lenders them- 
selves. A correspondent of the Economist, who writes under 
the signature of " A Banker,'' has described this plainly : "The 
certain jfkct is, that, according to the existing practice, no private 
banker keeps more actual coin than he wants for daily neces- 
sary occasions. In London, the Bank of England is the bankers* 

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The Monetary Crisis. 233 

bank. Especially since the admission lately of the great joint- 
stock banks to the clearing-house, no London banker keeps in 
his till more coin, or even more bank-notes, than the minimum 
he can get on with. If there is any unusual demand on him 
for payments across the counter, he draws a cheque and get-s it 
cashed at the Bank. Th^ Bank of England is to him what he 
is to his customer — the source of supply in case of need. Country 
bankers probably for the most part keep more cash, because they 
are further from the focus. As they have further to send when 
they want fresh supplies, their supply of current cash must be 
larger. This does not, however, affect the principle. Country 
bankers, I apprehend, as well as London bankers, only keep the 
minimum in their tills which their ordinary business plainly 
requires ; the rest of their reserve is kept at the bill-brokers', or 
with London bankers, who all keep accounts at the Bank of Eng- 
land, and who, as I have said, keep nothing any where else except 
the narrowest and most necessary minimum. The consequence 
is, that there is no other large pecuniary hoard in the country 
on which a drain of bullion can act except that which is in the 
vaults of the Bank.'' The inevitable consequence of this is, that 
when by any terrifying circumstance or perilous calamity the 
confidence between man and man is disturbed, our danger is 
considerable and our suffering extreme. We have made neces- 
sary to our vast transactions a system of delicate machinery ; by 
some blow jfrom without, or defect from within, that machinery 
will be occasionally impaired. Our hard capital is clothed in a 
soft web- work of confidence and opinion ; on a sudden it may 
be stripped bare, and with pain to our prosperity. 

We may perhaps doubt whether this system of enterprise 
and trust has not occasionally been carried too far. When we 
consider the vast extent of English trade, it is not satisfactory 
to think that a single establishment holds our entire bullion 
reserve. The fact is a consequence, not of the natural growth 
of commerce, but of legislative interference with that growth. 
By a series of enactments and a course of policy which, even if 
we had the space, it would be inopportune at present to de- 
scribe, the English Government have given to the Bank a vast, 
and, until lately, a nearly absolute predominance in the London 
district The conseauence has been, that, not unnaturally, all 
inferior banks have clustered around it As there was no doubt 
of the solvency of the Bank of England (seeing that, even in 
1797, when the Bank had no money, the Legislature intervened 
and said it need have no money), all other bankers, instead of 
running the risk — and, as experience has shown, the considerable 
risk — of keeping their own metallic reserve, place that reserve 
at the Bank, and draw it out by cheque as they want it Obvious 

Digitized by 


234 The Monetary Crisis. 

conyenience has fixed the habit too deeply in our existing sys-' 
tern to permit a hope of its removal ; but it has the inevitable, 
and perhaps dangerous, result of placing under the uncontrolled 
management of a single set of directors the sole hoard of actual 
cash — the only fund we have to draw on for international pay- 
ments, for foreign wars, or domestic panics. Under a more 
natural system, a set of banks of nearly equal magnitude, and 
nearly equal prestige^ would have grown up, as very recently the 
London joint-stock banks have in fact grown up ; and each of 
these, having no reason for particular friendship with any other, 
would have kept its own reserve. We are almost reviving the 
Aristotelic definition when we say that oligarchy is the govern- 
ment of wealth ; but in real and modem truth, the tendency 
of a mercantile community in each trade is towards the supre- 
macy of a few large establishments enjoying the means of carry- 
ing on their respective trades at the greatest advantage, and, as 
the case may be, trusted by or giving credit to the smaUer firms 
grouped and collected around UieuL The Bank of England is a 
Tvpayyo<:, who has overthrown this free constitution, and main- 
tains by irresistible usage its unnatural supremacy. The eflecthas 
been seen lately; what the act of Sir Robert Peel sets aside as the 
banking reserve has recently been reduced from several millions 
to 059,0002. ; and then, by a violation of the law, to less than 
nothing. Even if we disregard the technical provisions of that 
statute, the entire bullion reserve held, both for the banking 
credit and the paper currency of England, was on the 18th of 
November 6,684,000i. ; a very small amount, as will be almost 
universally admitted, when we consider the vast amount of the 
contingencies and liabilities against which it is held ; and that, 
in addition to these, it is liable to sudden calls to replenish in 
case of need the cash stores of Scotland and Ireland. We can 
hardly, with these circumstances before us, deny that we have 
pushed our system of credit rather too far, — have relied on too 
small a basis of actual ca{)ital, and incurred serious and need- 
less danger from any vicissitude of foreign speculation. 

Another circumstance, which has been much more dwelt on, 
but to which we ascribe mach less importance, is the system pur- 
sued by the joint-stock banks of the north of England of lending 
the whdle, or more than the whole, of their capital and deposits 
on the spot, and obtaining the necessary funds by re-discounting 
the north-country bills in London. Like every other contriv- 
ance of money-lending, this may be carried to an extreme at 
which it becomes dangerous ; but within reasonable and proper 
limits, the system seems a proper and even an excellent one. The 
bills of Liverpool must be, in the main, good ; for with all this 
pressure, — a pressure, too, likely to teU with unusual efiect at 

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The Monetary Crisis. 235 

the port which is the outlet and inlet of our American^comQierce, 
— very few Liverpool houses have suspended payment, when we 
consider the number of houses there are, and the complication 
as well as magnitude of their transactions. The Liverpool bills 
therefore are, in general,good securities for those who have money 
to lend. By the course of banking business, the bill-brokers and 
similar traders in London will have much to lend The agricul- 
tural and nearly uncommercial counties of England, as any one 
may see by looking at the map, are many : none of these, espe- 
cially during the recent prosperity of agriculture, any thing like 
employs its own money ; the surplus funds of all these counties, 
by a natural gravitation, seek an outlet in the capital, which is 
the focus of national finance, and the market for securities best 
known and most accessible to the whole country. These funds are 
lent to bill-brokers and joint-stock banks, who carry on a similar 
business — who are, in truth, bill-brokers as well as bankers ; and 
by these they are employed in re-discounting the bills forwarded 
to London by the northern banks. In its essence, the system is 
this : A man in the north is trustworthy, and wants money ; a 
man in the south has money, but does not know who is trust- 
worthy ; a middleman in London knows who is trustworthy, 
and lends the money of the south to the man in the north. Of 
course, as re-discounting is a system of extensive borrowing, it 
is exposed to all the evils incidental to every system of exten- 
sive borrowing. The banks which require re-discounts should, 
as a rule, confine them within limits which they can be sure of 
obtaining in times of adversity as well as of prosperity — should 
have distinct arrangements with bill-brokers to re-discount 
within those limits — and should select good bill-brokers who 
are able to perform those engagementa These are, mutatis mu- 
tandis, the same conditions which every prudent merchant who 
requires discounts would make with his banker who gives such 
discounts ; and if these conditions be duly complied with, both 
re-discounts and discounts are safe to the borrower, and distri* 
bute with singular advantage the capital of the nation. 

It is much to be regretted that members of parliament should 
have spent, in attacking the really beneficial system of re-dis- 
counts, the moral influence which might be applied with so much 
effect to other parts of our banking systeuL The obvious con- 
venience which we have explained will insure to that system a 
longevity far greater than that which can be expected by peer 
or representative. The use of parliamentary eloauence is not 
to bewail fixed habits, but to improve improvable habits. If 
the re-discounting system has been pushed too far, as is pos- 
sible, the effect is owing to the condition of the bill-broking 
trade in London, the state of which is certainly not in accord- 

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236 The Monetary Crisis. 

ance with strict principle, and may not perhaps be practically 

In its theory, nothing can be sounder than this trade. Money 
is received commonly in considerable sums ; an interest is paid 
for them, smaller if they are to be repaid on demand, and 
greater if they are only to be repaid after the expiration of a 
notice : this money is employed in the discount of commercial 
bills, — the kind of security which runs off most regularly and 
most constantly, and which in times of scarcity and anxiety ad- 
mits most easily of being curtailed. On the surface this would 
appear the safest kind of banking ; the way of employing the 
money is the best; so much of the money is only repayable 
after a notice, that the reserve which need be retained is 
smaller than usual This apparent safetv, however, is at present 
vitiated by a single fact The rate of interest now given is so 
high, that the business would become unprofitable if any re- 
serve were kept at alL Of this fact, which is familiar to those 
who are in any degree acquainted with the practice of Lom- 
bard Street, there is a very distinct explanation in the recent 
parliamentary inquiry furnished by a very experienced witness. 
The most influential partner in the house of Overend, Gurney, 
and Co., the most important house in the bill-broking trade, 
is examined as follows : 

" 5206. Ton are aware, as you have referred to the habits of bank- 
ing business, that it is the habit of the Bank of England, as well as, I 
believe, of other bankers, to keep a certain amount of their deposits in 
bank-notes in reserve )— Certainly. 

5207. Do the money-dealing houses in Lombard Street act on the 
same principle with regard to that money which is left in their hands 
at call ) — ^Tbey could not afford to do it ; it is not the nature of their 
business, except under circumstan'ces of danger as to the currency; 
they could not afford to pay interest for money and not to use it ; it 
is the nature of their business to bring into action and useful em- 
ployment the banking money of the country ; it is their business to 
use it 

5208. Do you, then, think that they may safely use all the money 
which they borrow, in lending it out at interest, provided it is on safe 
security ? — ^Assuming that they employ it on bills of exchange falling 
due de die in diem^ ti^en experience shows that they may do it safely, 
without any hazard. 

5209. Without keeping any reserve beyond a banking balance f — 
Certainly. How could I afford to pay ^ye or six per cent for money 
if I did not use it % It would be certainly the road to ruin.** 

At first sight this seems contrary not only to abstract argu- 
ment, but to evident prudence. How can other people's money 
be securely kept, a good deal of it on demand and the rest of 

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TTie Monetary Crisis. 287 

it at a short notice (seven days is the usual period), if all of it 
is invested, and if none is retained in the till to meet sudden 
demands? The doctrine that a reserve is necessary to bor- 
rowers so situated has been maintained ad nauseam by all 
theorists on banking. The same authority, however, has ex- 
plained the expedient by which it is rendered, as he thinks, 
safe, and, as all will agree, less entirely insecure. The ex- 
planation is rather long, but is curiously illustrative of real 

'' 5192. Then you think that the Bank of England could not stop 
discounting for the discount houses in Lombard Street, at particular 
times at least, without creating great injury to the commercial com- 
munity ? — I think it would create veiy great injury indeed. Of course 
the Bank Directors would use their own discretion ; if they saw these 
houses discounting very long bills with them, and bills which were not 
suitable in any way, I take for granted they would not take them. Of 
course that would not atfect the general question ; but assuming that 
there is a drain upon the monetary system, and that the great money 
dealers are driven to convert their bills more quickly than they &11 due, 
I think it would be a very great calamity for the Bank to hesitate for 
a single moment ; I cannot conceive any greater. 

5193. No matter what the reserve of the Bank of England was at 
the time 1 — Certainly. 

5194. llien you think that that is one of the grounds, in addition 
to those four which you have stated, which ought properly to be in- 
duded in an act of parliament as a ground for infringing the act ) — I 
hardly understand that point. 

5 1 95. You gave four grounds as reasons for an alteration of the act 
at particular periods, but you did not enumerate that to which I have 
just alluded. Do you think that that is one which ought to be in- 
cluded in the provisions of the act of parliament ) — I will mention a 
case, if you will allow me to refer to the house which I represent, be- 
cause this is a fact which has taken place before. About twenty years 
ago, the Bank tried to adopt that course ; I am obliged to speak per- 
sonally, which I hope you will excuse. I happened to have been absent 
from London for three or four weeks ; I came back to town, and found 
the whole of Lombard Street as if we had had a dark cloud hanging 
over it; our desk was piled with bills of the very finest commercial cha- 
racter; I said to my partner, 'Mr. Gumey, what in the world has 
happened 1 Why do you not discount these bills V He said, ' Because 
the Bank have intimated that they are doubtful whether they will dis- 
count for us.' I said, 'It is impossible.' He said, 'It is perfectly 
true; and therefore we will not discount the bills.' I was quite shocked ; 
I went over to the Bank, the Governor then was Sir John Eae Reid, 
and Sir Henry Pelly was the Deputy Governor; it was about 1839. 
I told them exactly what had taken place, and what the effect of their 
act had been. I said, ' We have taken care of ourselves ; it is not that 
we want the money for ourselves, because we have our bills to rely on, 

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238 The Monetary Crisis. 

and unless there is a regular conspiracy, we shall not mind anj bodj. 
But we hare to supply the public. You have stopped the issue of notes 
to us ; and if yon, who have been in the habit of supplying us with 
money when we required it> will not do so now, we, on the other hand, 
will not supply the public' I satisfied them that if they wished to 
curtail transactions, which was really their object, the way to do it was 
to make us act harmoniously with the Bank. Sir John Rae Reid said 
at once, * I perfectly understand you ;' and after a little consultation he 
said, ' If they are all proper bills, go and discount away ; and if you 
want money, come to us.' I went home, and told them what had taken 
place. It not only affected us, but it affected the whole of Lombard 
Street ; this dark cloud disappeared, and a perfect sunshine took place 
in an instant. We discounted every thing; and, as far as my memory 
serves me, I do not think, we went to the Bank for a shilling ; there 
was no interruption to the ebb and flow of the banking money. But 
when the Bank of England said, ' You shall not have it,' the effect was 
to lock up millions immediately; for a large portion of the banking 
money deposited with us is in great masses, because the parties know 
that they can have it in a moment. If, in our own arrangements be- 
tween ourselves and the Bank, the Bank say, ' We will not do this,' all 
that is stopped in a moment; and those millions, which would other- 
wise be of benefit to the public, under existing circumstances become 
inmiediately locked up ; because people say, * We would rather have 
no interest at all, than have a doubt about our getting the money in 
case we require it.'" 

Probably this is a satisfactory resource if the Bank of Eng- 
land is ready at all times, and willing at all times, to give the 
re-discount required. A man may advance every shilling of 
borrowed money on securities which he is sure that he can 
pledge in any quantity and at any time. But can these traders 
be sure that the Bank will be at all times so able and so will- 

Of the willingness of the Bank there need be no question. 
Its leading director has explained the system on which it acts. 
Mr. Norman is asked : 

"3527. The advances of the Bank of England are made through 
what is called the Discoimt Office ? — The greatest part of them. 

3528. What is the nature of the Discount Office 1 — It is a very 
anomalous institution, because the Bank is supposed to hold out an offer 
to every body to lend money to any amount on bills of exchange at a 
rate of interest fixed by itself, and subject, first of all, to variations in 
the rate of interest, and then to certain other contingencies, such as a 
diminution in the echeance, and an occasional rejection of securities 
ordinarily admitted. 

3529. Is it not principally by raising the rate of interest that you 
check the amount of discounts which may be so demanded of you f — 
Yes ; we have found, contrary to what would have been anticipated, 
that the power we possess, and which we exercise, of raising the rate 

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The Monetary Crins. 239 

of discount) keeps the demand upon us within manageable dimensions. 
There are other re^rietions which are less important The rate we 
charge for our discounts we find, in general, is a sufficient check." 

The power of the Bank is far less evident. If Sir R Peel's act 
is to be retained, and really acted on during a crisis of diffi- 
culty, that power would, if we may trust our experience, not 
exist. When there was less than a million in the reserve of 
notes, it was quite certain that the Bank could not make un- 
limited advances. Unquestionably, by keeping a much larger 
reserve in times of security, the Bank may retain the power of 
making these sudden and large advances in times of insecurity. 
And if the Bank directors in the forthcoming inquiry mean to 
support the act of 1 844, they most certainly should assure the 
public that they will in future adopt that expedient It is idle 
for them to undertake to make very great loans, and also to 
defend an act which limits their means, unless they can show 
us that by judicious management these means can be made 
practically adequate to such advances. They must either aban- 
don the argumentative defence of the statute of restriction, or 
they must show us how the business which they profess to 
carry on can be managed within the provisions of that statute. 
And even irrespectively of the conditions of this act, a cautious 
banker hardly likes to be under an engagement to make ad- 
vances however great, in times of difficulty however severe. 
It may be safe, but it does not sound safe. A much larger 
reserve of bullion than six or seven millions seems quite ne- 
cessary to render the profession to afford such advances even 

We are therefore of opinion, that though the state of other 
trades in England was as satisfactory during the present au- 
tumn as we can in general hope to have it, the condition of the 
money-lending trade was critical, and perhaps perilous. We 
think that the reserve held by the Bank for its banking lia- 
bilities was dangerously low; especially when we remember 
that this is the only actual cash reserve for all the banking 
liabilities of the country. We believe that the bill-brokers of 
Lombard Street incur serious risk in depending on the ability 
of the Bank to make unlimited advances at moments when 
money is remarkably scarce. On both these points we have 
the same fault to find with the monfey-lenders : that they have 
developed too highly the system of credit — in more graphic, 
though less elegant words, that they have " used up their money 
too cU>se " and do not keep enough of it unemployed to meet the 
contingency of an occasional pressure 

As we are using phraseology so similar, we would desire, 
hoirever, to distinguish ourselves particularly from those per- 

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240 The Monetary Crisis. 

sons who impute the principal error in the over-development 
of the system of credit in London to the joint-stock banks, 
which are now so remarkable a feature in its pecuniary system. 
"We have no desire to enter the lists for every thing which 
these banks have done ; we should be inclined, on a proper 
occasion, to maintain that they have committed errors; and 
that, in consequence of the law which requires that every share- 
holder shall be liable for the debts of the bank to his last shil- 
ling and his last acre, there are defects in their management 
which it will be diflScult to amend. Still, on the whole, the 
joint-stock banks of London have stood remarkably well ; not 
only have none of them failed, but none of them have been in 
danger of failing. They have now gone quite safely through a 
general pressure, and some time since they passed through a 
special pressure consequent on the failure of the Royal British 
Bank ; and in both cases the result has been beneficial It is 
quite true that they have adopted the bill-broker's business ; 
but they have divested it of the dangers of which we have 
spoken. Being possibly conscious that, as apparent, and per- 
haps in some degree real, competitors of the Bank of England, 
they might not find extreme favour with the authorities of the 
'^Discount Office'^ the joint-stock banks do not rely on the 
support of that establishment in times of difficulty. Mr. Chap- 
man the bill-broker, whom we have more than once cited, has 
given evidence on this point which we must believe to be con- 
clusive, as it is in favour of those whom he admits to be his 
competitors. "Is it," he is asked, "within your experience 
that the Loudon joint-stock banks, such as the London and 
TVestminster and other banks, re-discount their bills V " I 
never heard of such a thing." " Then in that respect the Lon- 
don joint-stock banks differ materially in their mode of carrying 
on business from that which is adopted by the discount houses 
in Lombard Street, do they not ?" " Certainly they do ; be- 
cause it is our business to sell our bills again, and they do not 
sell their bills again that I know of." These banks are enabled 
to carry on this course of business without recourse to the ex- 
pedient which those who first practised it have been compelled 
to rely upon, because their situation is in one most important 
respect far more advantageous. The bill-brokers pay an interest 
for all the money which they borrow ; the banks which com- 
pete with them have a great deal of money on the balances of 
drawing accounts for which they pay no interest — they can 
afford to keep idle some of their cheap money in order to pro- 
vide for the occasional withdrawal of the money for which they 
pay highly. Of course they do this at the expense of a dimi- 
nution in the profits which they might derive from the other 

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The Monetary Crisis. 241 

parts of their banking business. If thej did not keep their 
money idle for this peculiar purpose, they might empToy it in 
the common way, and obtain a profit upon it. But this is a 
matter which may be safely left to the practised pecuniary 
judgment of the managers. If they carry on such a business, 
we may without rashness infer that it is a profitable one. 
Possibly they may, from an implied engagement to give for . 
money one per cent less than the minimum rate of discount, 
have been recently induced to give higher rates for deposits 
than we shall be likely to see again ; perhaps the time of no- 
tice in which they hold their interest-bearing deposits may be 
tofo short ; but these are points of detail — on a general view of 
the subject they must be considered to hare diminished one of 
the most serious risks of the bill-broking business, at the same 
time that they have continued to afford to the public all cha- 
racteristic advantages. 

We do not consider as important arguments in favour of 
the conclusion that the system of credit has been perhaps too 
lai^gely developed in England, the reckless advances which 
appear to have been made by the three laige banks which have 
faued in Scotland and the north. In a great country like this 
there will always be some unsound banks, as well as some in- 
solvent merchants. Two of these banks nearly suspended pay- 
ment, and perhaps should have suspended payment, in 1847 ; 
and the other has been well known in the banking world for a 
speculative and exceptional business. We would not ground our 
conclusion on any singular and casual facts. We wish to base 
it solely on the small amount of cash, especially of cash avail- 
able for banking liabilities, held by the Bank of England ; and 
on the exclusive reliance of Lombard Street, and indirectly of 
the rural bankers, on the Bank of England. 

This extreme development of credit must of course be at- 
tended with peril during a crisis, in whatever manner that 
crisis may be occasioned. Every crisis must disturb confidence; 
and credit is the effect of trust and confidence. We cannot but 
believe, however, that during the last two months the peril of 
this inevitable disturbance of credit has been much enaanced 
by our peculiar legislation. The proof of this seems to us to 
lie on the surface of the subject The cause of panic is the 
expectation of insolvency. People who have during many 
years given long and large credit, become apprehensive, and 
wish to be paid in cash immediately. The peril of this state 
of feeling is measiured by the amount of cash which is avail- 
able to meet the demands for such repayment As we have 
explained, the sole reserve applicable to such repayments dur- 

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242 The Monetary Crisis. 

ing a pressure on Lombard Street is the banking reserve of tbe 
Bank of England. Previously to the Act of 18l4, the Bank of 
England resembled the Bank of Erance, and held a single re- 
serve of coin and bullion against o^Z its liabilities, whether to 
note-holders or depositors. If this state of things had continued, 
the reserve of casn applicable to a domestic panic, and its pro- 
portion to the claims upon it, would have been shown hj the 
following figures : 

Liabflities. Bullion. 



October 3 . 

. 39,070.000 . . 


10 . 

. 39,032,000 . . 


,,. 17 . 

. 37,017,000 . . 


24 . 

. 36,711,000 . . 


November i . 

. 37y862,000 . . 


11 . 

. 39,286,000 , . 


„ 18 . 

. 41,679,000 . . 


" The result of which is, that the Bmk reserve, beginning at 
about one-fourth of its general liabilities, was reduced to be- 
tween one-sixth and one-seventh of them in five weeks. ^ In 
that space of time, while the liabilities have been increasing, 
one-ikird of the bullion reserve has been abstracted/' This is 
evidently an account likely to create a serious feeling in the 
minds of attentive and cautious men. It would have convinced 
many of them, at least in our judgment, that our credit system 
rested on a basis dangerously small : but it is evidently an 
account requiring to be looked at with attention, and reasoned 
upon after consideration ; it would not produce a firantic alarm 
in the minds of any of those who are incapable of steady rea- 
soning, and are solely acted on by the tendencies of the moment, 
and the opinions of those around them. The extreme danger 
of a period of discredit consists in the frantic alarm which it 
occasions among such unreflective and undiscriminating per- 
sons. Sir Robert Peel's act enjoins a form of account which is 
felicitously apt to catch and rivet the minds of such persons. 
The amount applicable to the banking liabilities of the Bank 
of England, so long as the ordinary business of the Bank is 
going on, is the reserve in the banking department ; this, it is 
true, consists? of notes, but these are exchangeable on the other 
side of the Bank for bullion, and ma^ therefore be regarded as 
tickets for so much bullion. The history of this reserve, and 
of the liabilities to which it is applicable, is as follows : 

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The Monetary Crisis. 243 





September 19 . 

. 6,108,000 . 

. 17,047,000 

38 . 

. 6,014,000 . 

. 17,654,000 

Ootober 8 . 

. 4,606,000 . 

. 18,245,000 

10 . 

. 4,024,000 . 

. 18,169,000 

17 . 

. 3,217,000 . 

. 15,965,000 

24 . 

. 3,485,000 . 

. 16,124,000 

« 31 . 

. 2,258,275 . 

. 16,649,000 

Noveinber 4 . 

. 2,155,000 . 

. 16,781,000 

11 . 

. 957,000 . 

, 17,249,000 

"Starting on the 19th of September with a reserve of more 
than one-third of the deposits, the Bank reserve was reduced 
on the 11th of November to less than one-eighteenth ; and 
even supposing the 2,000,000/1 said to have been withdrawn 
for Scotland and Ireland not to have been so withdrawn, that 
reserve would have been under one-fifth.'' Now these are 
figures which can be read not only by a man who runs, but 
by a man running very fast The most inconsiderate mind 
must be struck by an account which shows so frightful a de- 
crease of available resources. Everyone, in truth, was so struck 
at a much earlier period than the last of the above dates ; and 
the result was the panic of 1857. We think all candid persons 
should allow, that whatever other advantages the act of 1844 
may have, its effect just then was to aggravate seriousness into 
apprehension, and apprehension into terror. 

This effect is the more perverse, because the first of the 
accounts, as legal authorities tell us, represents the real state 
of the Bank, and the other only embodies a theoretical form of 
account This may seem unlikely to persons only slightly fami- 
liar with the subject ; but it will not seem so to those who 
have studied the controversies in which the theory of the Act of 
1844 originated. According to the accomplished persons who 
suggested that theory, it was desirable that the amount of the 
paper circulation (whether including the reserve of notes in the 
Bank of England, or excluding it, was by no means clear) should 
conform to the fluctuation of the bullion in the Bank ; that for 
every new five pounds of bullion there should be a new five- 
pound note somewhere, and that for every new five-pound note 
there should be a new five pounds of bullion somewhere. The 
firamers of the act looked at the matter with the eyes of the eco- 
nomists rather than with those of lawyera They wished that 
the five-pound note and the five pounds of bullion should al- 
ways co-exist ; but they did not care to appropriate or earmark 
the bullion for the payment of the note. They wished, as 
Lord Overstone has expressed it^ that the note should be "the 

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244 The Monetary CrisU. 

shadow^' of the metal ; but they did not especially care to enforce 
a l^al tie between them. In the same way, the same school of 
legislators and thinkers enacted expressly that gold should go 
down to Scotland as a basis for the note circulation (above a 
certain limit) ; and yet did not at all specifically appropriate it 
to that circulation. In a word, it was rather the representative 
character of the note that they were anxious to secure, and not 
its convertibility, in its obvious meaning that whoever has a 
five-pound note should be sure of having five pounds in gold 
for It It struck these theorists as immaterial whether the 
note-holder had the five pounds, or some one else had it 

The consequence has been, that a fictitious form of account, 
which really gives no priority to the note-holder over the de- 
positor, am>ear8 to give such priority, and that the depositor is 
frightened into panic by the idea of his postponement ; although 
it is not true. 

The evils of a crisis so produced and so aggravated are of a 
complicated nature ; and it would require muchmore space than 
we nave at our disposal to specify all of them. A knowledge 
of one of them, however, is particularly important to a correct 
understanding of very recent eventa By one of the most ela- 
borate contrivances of our commercial system, credit, in its va- 
rious forms, is largely employed as a currency. The bank-note 
is one of the most obvious forms of this ; it is a mere promise 
to pay, but in its transference from hand to hand it closes baiv 
gains as effectually as gold itself The bank-note, however, 
though the earliest and simplest, is not by any means in our 
refined commerce the most operative form of the credit cur- 
rency. The large wholesale transactions, which really deter- 
mine the geneiul price of important articles, are rarely now 
settled in bank-notes. The real instrument of large operations 
is the cheque. It is within the familiar experience of every 
one, that all the ordinary purchases of private life are now so 
settled ; the large purchases of trade are so also. Some people 
have a notion that a cheque is not currency because it is im- 
mediately paid and cancelled \ but this is a niistake of fact 
Very few cheques, in comparison with the whole number, are 
really paid over the counter in sovereigns. The person who re- 
ceives a cheque probably keeps a banker, and pays the cheque 
in to his account with such banker : if the latter is the banker 
on whom the cheque is drawn, the cheque is " paid" by a sim- 
ple transfer from the account of the drawer to that of the payee ; 
even if the banker of the drawer is a different person from the 
banker of the payee, the process is the same. The rural bankers, 
as a rule, settle their accounts in London. All London bankers 
settle their accounts at the '' clearing-house ;" that is, they see 

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The Monetary Crisis. 245 

what cheques each holds payable by the others, set off an equal 
amount one against another, and pay the* balance themselves 
by a cheque on the Bank of England. Every London banker 
has an account at the Bank of England, from which the cheque 
so drawn, by a slightlv complex machinery of book-keeping 
which we need not explain, is transferred to the account of the 
banker who is to receive it By this artificial arrangement, 
cheques drawn in Dorsetshire or Lancashire are really paid by 
transfers in the deposits of the Bank of England. No sove- 
reigns or notes pass at all; the whole is a matter of book- 
keeping. It is evident that all this supposes a general feeling 
of confidence in the banking community. If every person who 
received a cheque took fright about the stability of the banker 
on whom it was drawn, or the adequacy of the provision made 
by such drawer in the hands of that banker for its payment, 
the system would be at an end. If every person who received 
a cheque rushed at once to the banker and obtained coin for it, 
there would be no room for this currency of set-offs, and the 
work of the clearing-house would cease altogether. In times 
of panic there is a good deal of this. If at such a period there 
is a run on the bill-brokers of Lombard Street (as there is un- 
derstood to have been last November for two or three days after 
the stoppage of Messrs. Sandeman and Saunderson), a good deal 
of it is taken in bank-notes. Nervous persons do not like to trust 
to the operations of the clearing-house, which they will not 
know for some hours ; especially if they hold securities, they 
will be very unwilling to rely on this distant process, or to part 
with them except on the payment of bank-notes. The expec- 
tation of this process produces even a worse effect than its 
reality. Every money-dealer, especially every country banker, 
who cannot from geographical difficulties at once replenish his 
stores, strengthens himself to meet the sudden demands of ap- 
prehensive persons. He has no confidence that other people 
will have confidence, and he provides accordingly. The conse- 
quence is, that a larger amount of coin and bank-notes is re- 
quired in times when credit is large than in times when credit 
is small, because in our elaborate commercial civilisation we 
have coined credit itself into a currency. 

These considerations afford the best reply to those theorists 
who seem to consider the letter from Lord Palmerston and Sir 
Gt. C. Lewis, permitting an additional issue of bank-notes upon 
securities, as a " debasement of the currency." The exact state 
of things was this : — The knowledge of a limit prescribed by 
former legislation has produced a feeling of apprehension which 
has destroyed the efficiency of a portion of your currency. The 
real bargaining medium of the country is as much diminished. 

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246 The Monetary Crisis. 

or rather is eyen more diminished, by the diffused nervousness 
which we have spoken of, than it would be by the failure of a 
country bank issuing notes. Yet it has been generally admitted 
that, in the case of such a failure, economical principle did not 
forbid, and obvious common sense warranted, an issue of other 
paper by solvent persons of credit to supply the vacuum which 
had been so created. We can acknowledge no distinction for 
this purpose between bank-notes and other forms of credit The 
circulating medium of the country, in this relation, must be 
regarded as an entire whole ; whatever by the course of usage 
settles our domestic transactions, is a part of it ; and when any 
important part of it is destroyed or impaired, we can recognise 
no violation of principle in a development of that which is un- 
impaired. The place of that which is wanting may surely be 
supplied by the substitution of that which we hava In the 
instance before us, the case is even a stronger ona What 
caused the panic was the apprehension of the legislative limit ; 
the mere removal of that limit was in itself equivalent to a 
great increase of currency, because it supported so much credit 
which by custom and habit was performing the functions of 
currency. Lord Overstone has observed of the circumstances 
of a former panic: "Look to the Government letter of 1847. 
What was the Government letter of 1847? Why, it was an 
indefinite increase of the Bank reserve. What was its effect ? 
Not one note was put into what is called its active state. ^ Not 
one single note passed out of the Bank in consequence of it ; 
but the Bank reserve was instantaneously augmented. What 
was the result ? A miracle was instantaneotisly worked. The 
want of confidence was removed ; every thing became smooth and 
easy. The whole machinsry oftiie credit system of the cowniryy 
which had been brought to a aead-locky was immediately pid in 
order, amd every thing went on with perfect ease" Can there be 
a more satisfactory testimony to the effect of the limit upon 
the issue of bank-notes in impairing the efficiency of the "credit 
currency'' of the country, or of the instantaneous rapidity with 
which that credit currency is repaired by its removal ? On the 
present occasion it has been necessary not only to erase, but to 
overstep the limit There is hardly any one, in the midst of the 
facts, but will find, however, that the amount of circulating 
credit impaired by apprehension is very much greater than the 
not very considerable sum which has been issued beyond the law. 
This affords also the reply to the suggestion of Lord Grey, 
that an issue of £xcheque]>bills or stock would be more appro- 
priate than an issue of notes. Neither of these would, how- 
ever, repair the deficiency. A portion of the transferable cre- 
dit which effects the purposes of money in the community has 

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The Monetary Crins. 247 

become inefficient ; you can only substitute for it some other 
form of credit which will be efficient ; and neither Exchequer- 
bills nor stock are, in our present practice, capable of being 
used as money.* 

There is, indeed, no other credit so well adapted as that of 
the Bank of England for sustaining and replacing other credits. 
Its central position, its great capital, its peculiar prestiae, fit it 
especially for so doing ; and if it kept a sufficient bullion re- 
serve, and were unhampered by the restrictive operation of the 
Act of 1844, it could do so safely and without difficulty. The 
knowledge that it was able to do so would very likely prevent 
a panic ; and a judicious use of its power would mitigate and 
relieve a panic if it should occur. We are aware that this 
involves the necessity of intrusting our entire bullion reserve 
to the discretion of the Bank directors. But, as we have seen, 
fdU of our bullion reserve which is held for the banking liabili- 
ties of the country (or, if any one likes it better, all the re- 
serve of notes in the banking department) is at present in- 
trusted to their discretion. They can, by errors in judgment 
and miscalculations of events, with facility reduce this part of 
our reserve to the zero at which it lately stood. Is there any 
great additional risk in giving them an entire control over the 
whole ? 

It is, indeed, alleged, and in part truly alleged, that the oper- 
ation of Sir R Peel's Act is to compel the Bank to make pro- 
vision for a drain of bullion at an earlier period than it would 
otherwise have done. No one can deny that the Act of 1844 
has been a most instructive scientific experiment ; and the evi- 
dence recently given by the Bank authorities, as compared with 
that given by them ten years ago, certainly proves that they 
have learnt a good deal that is very valuable. But now that 
the precedent of breaking the Act is thoroughly established, 
we may well question whether the conduct of the Bank under 
it will be different from what that conduct would be without 
it The resource of breaking the law will always be in the 
background of the mind. In overt argument the Directors 
may allege that they are not relying on such a resource ; but 
patent facts wiU have their influence. They know that they 
can have a letter of license if they choose ; and they will never 
act as though they could not have it Although, therefore. Sir 
IL Peel's Act, and the reasonings on its working, have taught 

* To Ihe issue of Exchequer-bills there would be the further objection that 
they were scarcely saleable ; and if there had been a dream of any large new 
iaane, Uiey wuald have beoome unsaleable. The high price of stock, and the 
readiness with which loans could be obtained upon it, arises from the number of 
trustees and similar persons who are confined by settlements, &c. to that invest- 

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248 The Monetary Crisis. 

us much valuable caution, we cannot expect that the Act will 
enforce a degree of prudence on the Bank which it would not 
exercise otherwise, — certainly not that the degree of extra 
prudence which we shall so obtain is worth the feverish ap- 
prehension which the knowledge of the restriction is sure to 

Some theorists have indeed said, that there should be a 
warning now and once for all explicitly given that the Act 
shall be broken no more. We have seldom any faith in legis- 
lative " compacts" and promises fettering the inevitable discre- 
tion of future administrators. But in reality we have now some- 
thing like a compact that the Act will be evaded when future 
circumstances are similar to those we have just passed through. 
Chancellors of the Exchequer are cautious men ; the desire of 
cautious men is to be safe; the way to be safe is to follow a pre- 
cedent The boldest man in England would shrink from tw^ 
following a precedent, when the inevitable and instantaneous 
result would be the failure of the Bank of England, and the 
consequent and irretrievable ruin of the banking and money- 
dealing community. No one who duly^considers how formal is 
the habit, how extreme the prudence, and how tenacious the 
love of precedent in English statesmen, will have any idea that 
any of them will ever be so wedded by an abstract, an abstruse, 
and, in our judgment, an erroneous principle, as, in a pressing 
crisis, to accept such a responsibility. 

Some statesmen have fancied they can elude the difficulty 
by carrying further the essential principle of the Act of 1844, 
vesting the business of issue in a Government department alto- 
gether and geographically separate from the Bank of England. 
We do not, however, perceive how, if that course had been 
adopted previouslv to the present crisis, it would have at all 
lightened our difficulties. The issue department of the Bank 
would have been at Somerset House ; but the banking depart- 
ment would have been just in the same state that it was. The 
demand on it would have been the same, and its funds pre- 
cisely the same. The destruction of the credit currency, suck 
as we have described it, would have been exactly as important ; 
the need of a remedy as urgent ; the kind of remedy identical ; 
public opinion would have pressed the Government to au- 
thorise an extra issue, just as now : indeed the pressure in all 
real likelihood would have been greater, because the interposi- 
tion of an independent body like the Bank shields the Govern- 
ment from impatient clamour, and mitigates the apprehension 
of a factious political opposition. At any rate, men of the 
world will commonly believe that, notwithstanding the change 
of form, the Government would have done exactly what they 

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The Monetary Crms. 249 

have now done. You may make a rigid rule easily enough ; but 
where will you find a rigid statesman to adhere to that rule ? 

The separation of the issue department from the Bank is 
supported, as he himself tells us, by Mr. Gladstone, because he 
belieyes that it is a confusion of the business of issue with that 
of banking, which leads to the notion that it is the business of 
the Bank to aid trade without limitation in crises of difficulty. 
We have seen, however, that this notion rather arises from the 
habit of the Bank (as explained by Mr. Norman) to make ad-' 
vances at all times, to unlimited amounts, on such securities as 
come within their peculiar niles, or only to check those advances 
by the greater rate of interest charged to the borrowers in times 
of scarcity. So long as the Bank has any such principle as this, 
no separation of the issue department from the banking de- 
partment will weaken the pressure upon it If the Bank of 
jBngland were to define the limit of its advances to its regular 
customers, and not consider itself bound to make advances to 
any but its regular customers, no separation of the business of 
issue would be needful We are not recommending this course, 
— for it is not in the parenthesis of an article that the funda- 
mental maxims of the most important corporation of the country 
can be discussed, — we only say, if an alteration is needed, if it 
is undesirable that the Bank should be expected to advance 
without stint on occasions of scarcity, — this alteration of their 
banking practice will be absolutely necessary, and will be 
enough to efiect that which is required. A change in the 
geographical position of the power of issue would have upon 
it no efiect whatever. 

The next suggestion which is made by those who wish to 
retain the essential peculiarity of the Act of 1844, and at the 
same time to prevent the necessity of extra-legal and recurring 
suspensions of it, is the " elastic clause." The details of this 
proposal have never been very well worked out, and probably 
differ much in the minds of different theorists. The essential 
principle of it, under all variations, however, is, that at a cer- 
tain point in a commercial crisis, either the Bank Directors or 
the Government, or both together, should have the legal right 
to authorise an additional issue of notes upon securities. Some 
persons would restrict the power to occasions at which the bul- 
lion was below a certain point ; others to times at which the 
rate of interest was as much as ten per cent or twelve per cent; 
and others again to times at which the exchanges were not 
unfavourable to the country: but these persons are all agreed 
that at some point or other in the crisis some such step should 
be taken, and some power of taking such a step without in- 
fringing the law should be provided. If the Act of 1844 is to 

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250 The Monetary Crisis. 

be retained, we can scarcelj question that such a power should 
be given ; and yet there are many and great difficulties in set- 
tling the way in which it sheuld be conferred, and the persons 
to whom it should be intrusted. We may dispose, — at least so 
it seems to us, — almost at once of the suggestion for an exact 
pre-appointmentof the occasions on which this exceptional dis- 
cretion is to be exercised. The circumstances of commercial 
crises differ so very much, that even for the few of which we 
know the details it would not be easy to fix a machinery which 
would be uniformly applicable ; and it would be immeasurably 
more difficult to prescribe beforehand, and in an enactment, for 
all which the future may have in store for us. We may have 
a domestic panic when the bullion in the issue department is 
above any point which we can exactly specify, — when the rate 
of interest is eight per cent or ten per cent, — during a foreign 
drain of bullion, or after it. No practical statesman will, it is 
probable, frame an elaborate proposal of this kind; persons con- 
versant with complicated affairs are habitually averse to minute 
predescription, and to any profession of foreseeing more than it 
is possible to foresee. The most plausible of these contrivances 
is that which would fix the minimum rate of interest to be 
charged during the time that the Bank may avail itself of such 
exceptional issues ; but even this is liable to the two objections 
— ^that it may happen that the minimum is fixed too high ; and 
that the necessity of changing it, in order to obtain the need- 
ful notes, may impose a needless burden on the public during a 
time of difficulty : and secondly, that it only in appearance limits 
the occasions on which the exceptional power may be exerted, 
since the fixing the rate of interest must necessarily be in 
the same hands as the exercise of that power, whether of the 
Chancellor of the Exchequer or of the Bank, or of both ; and 
if those authorities at any time wish to avail themselves of the 
power, they can adjust the rate of interest accordingly. On the 
whole^ therefore, if such a clause should be hereafter added to 
our legislation, it will probably be found necessary to leave the 
occasions on which it may be exercised, as well as the extent 
and manner of that exercise, to the unfettered discretion of 
some persons, and it will only be necessary to consider who those 
persons should be. At first sight, it seems absurd to {)lace 
this expansive power in the sole discretion of the Bank direc- 
tors. These are the persons, it should seem, whose discretion we 
cannot trust, and on whom we wish to impose a binding fetter ; 
yet great difficulties arise when we attempt to vest any such 
power in any department of the executive government As 
Mr. Gladstone has observed, nothing can be more foreign to 
our habits, and to the entire genius of our legislation and 

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The Monetary Crisis. 251 

society, than that ministers of the crown should have to decide 
which commercial house or firm is to stand and which to fail. 
Yet in actual practice the discretionary employment of such an 
expansive power as is proposed does of necessity involve their 
having to decide such points. The power is only to be exer- 
cised in times of extreme pressure or of panic. What is to be 
the test of the extremity of the pressure ? The only test is the 
stoppage or critical position of great commercial houses. The 
panic apprehension which brings such eminent firms into a 
crisis of difficulty can only be tested by communication with 
such firms, and an examination of their difficulties. No more 
delicate or unpleasant power can be placed in the hands of any 
minister, especially of a minister under a parliamentary govern- 
ment, who may be politically and closely connected with some 
commercial city, and have to decide on the ruin or prosperity 
of his warmest and most important supporters. Vesting the 
expansive power in the Government has also some of the incon- 
veniences, just now so familiar to us, of a double government 
In 1847, the Bank directors maintained that the state of the 
Bank was a perfectly safe one, that they desired no help from 
the administration, and that the issue of Sir C. Wood's letter 
was only desirable — ^if desirable at all — for the general welfare 
of the commercial community. We do not know if there was 
any such " coquetting" on the late occasion ; but in her Majest/s 
Speech, and in the debate, ministers appeared to take on them- 
selves the full responsibility of the extra-legal act. In this 
there is certainly some anomaly. The Bank directors ought to 
regulate, and ought to be responsible for, all the acts of the 
Bank, whether legal or extra-legal — whether they were done in 
the common course of business, or under the authority of an 
" elastic clause."' The legislative creation of such an expansive 
power, assumes that its existence is necessary and its employ- 
ment at times desirable. The authorities of the Bank can hardly 
be permitted to abdicate all responsibility at these times — to 
manage in ordinary periods as they did in the year 1 84*7, so as 
to aggravate the intensity of a great crisis ; and then, in the 
moment of the most harassing difficulty, to devolve the entire 
care of the banking community upon the executive govern- 
ment The warmest admirers of a duplicate administration 
will scarcely recommend that we should have one set of authori- 
ties to get us into trouble, and another set to get us out. We 
can hardly question, that if there is to be such an elastic ele- 
ment within the limits of the law, the Bank should have a 
share in the responsibility of withholding it or of setting it free. 
Possibly the best solution of these conflicting practical difficul- 
ties would be, to vest the responsible discretion of making or 
not making such exceptional issues in the Bank and the Govern- 

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252 The Monetary Crisis. 

ment together. We would recommend that there should be a 
distinct application from the Bank to the financial executive 
for the permission to make such unusual issues, and an official 
reply from the Goyemment authorising such issues to be made. 
We should then clearly know who was responsible for what has 
been done : the Bank directors, having expressly asked for per- 
mission to overstep the ordinary limit, could not in any degree 
evade an important share in the responsibility so incurred ; the 
Grovernment, having acted at the request and under the cownsel 
of the Bank directors, would be relieved from some part of 
the odium which attaches to the intervention of parliamentary 
statesmen amid the distressing personalities, and what must be 
to them the unaccustomed scene, of a commercial crisis. As we 
have formerly remarked, we believe that if such a discretion is 
to be given at all, it had better be an unrestricted discretion. 
Only a doctrinaire pedantry 'can, we think, presume to enu- 
merate circumstances, or define the precise minute, at which it 
will be required. 

The difficulty of framing such an " elastic clause" throws 
great doubt, in our judgment, on the advisability of framing 
it at all. This arbitrary limit, and authorised manner of over- 
passing it, have rather an appearance of artificiality and tech- 
nical theory. All such schemes are likewise liable to the ob- 
jection that the relief they provide us with, is, if the expression 
may be allowed, relief with a jerk. The panic is allowed to 
become imminent, and then is on a sudden calmed by an ex- 
traordinary and peculiar act Under an unfettered system the 
relief might be given gradually, insensibly, and as a matter of 

We are aware of the great feeling which exists in England 
against vesting an unfettered power of issuing notes payable 
on demand in any body whatever. We believe that this feeling, 
in so far as it is a just one, is founded on historical circum- 
stances, especially on the insolvency of the old race of country 
bankers in times when banks were not allowed to be composed 
of more than six partners, and on remarkable misuses of its 
metropolitan monopoly during the same period by the Bank of 
England. Much might be said as to these historical circum- 
stances in mitigation of these apprehensive feelings ; but it is 
simpler to observe that the whole subject is a choice of diffi- 
culties. It may be an evil to have discretion ; but the events 
of the last few months prove — and all that we have written is 
but an attempt to explain — the evils of a rigid rule which ad- . 
mits of no discretion. 

Much of the apprehension which prevails in England as 
to "baseless paper' might perhaps be calmed if we adopted 
the plan of requiring from all issuers of it a specific security. 

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The Monetary Crisis. 258 

If all notes were known to be secured by a deposit of consols, 
with a margin of consols taken at a low value, the fear of our 
being flooded with paper issued by insolvents, and representing 
nothing, might be mitigated. This might be extended to the 
country districts, and to Scotland and Ireland ; and the cur- 
rency of the three kingdoms would then be uniform, would 
be protected from panic feeling, and would be reasonably and 
justly relied on by the public. 

The whole of our banking system is to be explored, it is 
said, before the impending committee, with an acuter atten- 
tion, if possible, than ever before ; and though we cannot ex- 
pect a great deal of new light, we may perhaps hope to have 
some. We should especially hope that we shall not have on 
any future occasion the class of theorists who have beset us 
lately, and who maintain that the Government relaxation of 
the Act of 1844 is a debasement of the currency, and yet do 
not dare distinctly to impugn its propriety ; with such specu- 
lators there ought to be no argumentative quarter. A debase- 
ment of the currency is a measure which can never be right 
under any imaginable conjuncture of events ; it is a violation 
of a fundamental maxim of morality. We can imagine manv 
reasonings under many circumstances for a suspension of cash 

Sayments ; unfortunate events may prevent our paying our 
ebts for a time, and it may be necessary to postpone all cre- 
ditors, to avoid an imequal preference of some few. But we 
can imagine no circumstances in which^it would be right to 
compel people to accept little shillings instead of large shil- 
lings. No words can be too mean for the subterfuge of pro- 
fessing to pay our debts, when we are redly giving less than 
we contracted to repay. Those whose theory logically compels 
them to take this view of the Government relaxation, ought to 
have opposed it with a far greater decision and explicitness. 
As a matter of fact, we apprehend, however, that the practical 
good sense of the most accomplished of such persons really 
makes them feel that if they had been in the position of re- 
sponsibility, they would have acted as hei^ Majesty's Govern- 
ment have done ; and accordingly, whatever a rigid logic may 
advance, their essential judgment is in its favour. 

Notwithstanding the arguments of some eminent orators, 
the whole subject is not yet exhausted. There is no exhaust- 
ing subjects on which experience daily accumulates, and of 
which the details daily change. We have only been able to 
touch on a few points in comparison of the many which are 
• important, and yet we must have wearied our readers. We 
can only hope that other writers will be both more exhaustive 
and more agreeable. 

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[ 364 ] 


The Epistles of St John. A Series of Lectures on Gbristiaii Ethics. 
By F. D. Maurice, M.A. MacmiUan and Co. 

[This is, we think, Mr. Maurice's most effective and instructiTe 
work. He is peculiarly fitted by the constitution of his mind 
to throw light upon St. John's writings.] 

The Indian Crisis. Five Sermons by F. D. Maurice, M.A. MacmiDan. 

[A fine series of sermons, on the spirit in which all^ Englishmen 
should interpret the Indian caLunity.] 

The Philosophy of Evangelicism. Bell and Daldy. 

[A veiy able and thoughtful essay on something far wider than 
what is technically called Evangelicism. The style is, perhaps, 
a little too studied for the subject. To the writer's criticism 
on our last Number we may perhaps take some other opportu- 
nity to reply.] 

The Philosophy of Theism. Ward and Co. 

[This is a really able but hard essay, which shows much affinity 
with the Oalvinistic metaphysics of the understanding.] 

Sennons preached on vlurious Occasions. By John Henry Newman, 
D.D., of the Oratory. Bums and Lambert. 

[A volume of sermons, preached chiefly to the students of the 
Roman Catholic University of Dublin. It has Dr. Newman's 
general characteristi<», — wide intellectual grasp, and eveiy 
ffrace that style can give to very unsatis&ctory mond premises ; 
but there is less subsUmce in the volume than in most others of 
the same author.] 

The Orthodox Doctrine of the Apostolic Eastern Church ; or, a Com- 
pendium of Christian Theology. Whittaker and Co. 

The World of Mind by Isaac Taylor. Jackson and Walford. 
[Reviewed in Article YII.] 

Essays, Scientific, Political, and Speculative. By Herbert Spencer. 
Longman, Brown, and Co. 

[This is a republication of Mr. Spencer's thoughtful and able essays 
in the various quarterlies.] 

Thomdale; or, the Conflict of Opinions. By William Smith. 1 voL 
W. M. Blackwood and Sons. 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

Books of the (Quarter suitable for Beading-Societies. 255 

Economy oftheLabourinff Classes. By William Lucas Sargant. 1vol. 
Simpkin and Marshall. 

[A valuable book, reproducing a sreat part of M. Le Play's great 
French work on the same subject, out with very considerable 
additions and good comments.] 

The History of the Factory Movement by Alfred. 2 vols. Simpkin 
and Marshall. 

A Layman's Contribution to the Knowledge and Practice of Religion 
in Common Life. By William Ellis. 1 vol. Smith, Elder, ana Co. 

[A very useful book on elementary political economy. The title 
^ves a fidse conception of the scope of the work. '^ Religion 
m Common Life" o\^^t primarily to touch motives rather than 
external actions.] 

The Sepoy ReVoIt ; its Causes and its Consequences. By Henry Mead. 
John Murray. 

Curiosities of Natural History. By Francis F. Buckland, M. A. 1 vol, 
Bichard Bentley. 

Omphalos: an Attempt to untie the Oeolo^cal Knot By P. H. 
Gosse, F.R.S. John Van Voorst 

The Bambles of a Naturalist on the Coasts of France, Spain, and Sicily. 
By A. D. Quatrefages. 2 vols. Longman, Brown, and Co. 

The Political Economy of Art. By John Buskin, M. A. 1vol. Smith, 
Elder, and Co. 

Remarks on Secular and Domestic Architecture, Present and Future. 
By G. Gilbert Scott, A.R.A. Murray. 

[A good book, combining theoir with practical suggestions in a 
somewhat desultory manner.] 

The State Policy of Modem Europe, from the Beginning of the Six- 
teenth Century to the Present Time. 2 vols. Longman, Brown, 
and Co. 

[A useful and instructive work.] 

Essays on the Early Period of the French Revolution. Contributed to 
the Quarterly Review by the late Right Hon. John Wilson Croker. 
John Murray. 

The Eighteen Christian Centuries. By the Rev. J. White. 1 vol. 

[A slight compendium of the history of eighteen centuries, — well 
written, but making little pretension to going below the sur- 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

256 Books of the Quarter suitable for Reading-Societies, 

A Year of Hevolution. From a Journal kept in Paris in the jeai' 1848. 
By the Marquis of Normanbj, K.Q. ^ vok. Longman^ Brown, 
and Co. 

[Pleasant and often new information na to Lamartine's relation to 
the Revolution, and other connected subjects, is contained in 
this book. It is full of agreeable anecdote and gossip, but the 
style is awkward and sometimes confused.] 

British Rule in India. By Harriet Martineau. 1 voL Smith, Elder, 
and Co. 

[A good compendium of a great subject.] 

A Hundred Years Ago : an Historical Sketch : 1755 to 1756. By 
James Hutton. £>ngman and Co. 

The Boscobel Tracts ; relating to the Escape of Charles the Second 
after the Battle of Worcester, and his subsequent Adventures. 
Edited by J. Hughes, Esq. A.M. W. Blackwood and Sons. 

[A useful republication.] 

History of Modem Rome, from the taking of Constantinople (1453) 
to the restoration (1850) of Pope Pius IX. Longman, Brown, 
and Co. 

The Israel of the Alp : a complete History of the Yaudois of Piedmont 
and their Colonies. By Alexis Muston. 2 vols. Blackie. 

Montaigne the Essayist : a Biography. By Bayle St John. 2 vols. 
Chapman and Hall. 

[Mr. Bayle St. John has devoted much time and care to this book. 
It is written with genuine interest, and contains passages of 
much power and finish. It will be widely read.] 

Memoirs of the Duke of St Simon ; or, the Court of France during 
the last paii; of the Reign of liouis XIY. and the Regency of the 
Duke of Orleans. Abridged from the French. By Bayle St John. 
Vols. 3 and 4. Chapman and Hall. 

[This booky as is well known, is full of graphic material. The 
translator has not always adapted himsell to English taste in 
selecting for his abridgment.] 

Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa, during Sixteen 
Years Residence in the Interior of Africa. By David Livingstone, 
LL.D. J. Murray. 

[The unworked materials of a most valuable book. We cannot ex- 
pect the most dauntless of modem travellers to be also the 
most skilful of literary writers.] 

Captivity of Russian Princesses in the Caucasus. Translated from the 
Russian. By H. S. Edwards. Smith, Elder, and Co. 

[A very interesting, minute, and finished picture of a long residence 
in Shamyl's house.] 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

Booii qf the Q$Mier mdiabkfor Brndhg^S^eieUeg. 307 

Tsgtsf ghdotin^ m Indift. Bj Lierttt. WiOiaofli Iii«e^ 25di Boiiibtt(f N J. 
BBaOi, Elder, and Co. 

[ThMe bdniiB^ adtetttaM^ of m UOktk oflkw foim one of the 
ntoBt eatei^nitig t>6d]di or Ug^bi Midiiig tbal blive appeared 
Has quarter. A fenuiae love of spozt, a thorough knowledge 
of the character and habits of the ti^^, and a remarUUy iiooa 
8^1ef raise the work above most of its class. It is beautirallj 
illusCntted with chromoHthogmphio {dates itvm sketdte^bxtto 

Letters from Cannes and Nice. By MargWit Maria Brewstefr Thomas 

Oriental and Western Siberia : a l^arratiye of Seven Vears' fi!t|rforti1!feils 
and Adventures in Siberia. By Thomas Witlam Atkinson. 1 vol. 
Hurst and Blackett 

Northern Travels, Summer and Winter Pictures of Sweden and 
Norway. By Bayard Taylor. 1 vol. Sampson Low. 

Beminiseences of Pilgrimage to the Holy Places of Palestine. By 
Henry 6. J. Clements, M.A. J. H. Parker and Son. 

Recreations of Christopher North. Vol. 3. W. Blackwood and Sons. 

Modem English Literature, its Blemishes and Defects. By Henry H. 
Breen, Esq., F.S.A. Longman, Brown, and Co. 

[There is some ability and some hypercriticism in this book.] 

The Fairy Family: a Series of Ballads and Metrical Tales. Longmans. 
[Elegantly writtePy and aooampanied by a beautiful frontispiece.] 

The Thousand and One Days. Edited by Miss Pardee. William Lay. 

[A delightful book for children, with really new Arabian tales of 
the old sort.] 

Biverston. By 6. M. Craik. 3 vols. Smith, Elder, and Co. 

[An unquestionably dever novel, but imitative of Miss BrontS.] 

Debit and Credit. From the German of Freytag. By Mrs. Malcolm. 
Richard Bentley. 

[An excellent translation of a veiy dever German noveL] 

The Year Nine: a Tale of the Tyrol. By the Author of "Mary 
Powell." HaU, Virtue, and Co. 

The Exiles of Italy: a Tale. By C. O. H. 1 voL Hamilton and 

Hassan; or, the Child of the Pmmid : an Egyptian Tale. By the 
Hon. C. A. Murray, CB. 2rci& J. W. Pirker. 

[Clever of its kind.] 


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258 Books of the Quarter euiiablefor Beading^Soeieties. 

The Three GlerkB: aNoYel. BjA.TroUope. SvoIb. Richard fientlej. 

(Teiy clever ; but containing not a little patchwork. The chaneten 
are sometimeB not consirtent with themselTes ; and adyentitioua 
** oopf* JB used as padding to fill up the ¥0100168.] 

Orphans. By Mrs. Oliphant. 1 vol. Hurst and Blackett 

TheWhite House by the Sea: aLoyeStory. By M.Betham Edwards. 
2 Yols. Smith, Elder, and Co. 

[A freshly written tale, with no fiilse sentiment, and much power 
of the feminine kind.] 

White Lies. By Charles Reade. Svob. Triibner. 


Grest New Stxwt and FMtar Lane. 

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Merope : a Tragedy. By Matthew Arnold. London : Longmans^ 


Mr. Arnold is no doubt following his own true bent when he 
devotes himself to what is called the classical school of literature. 
Certainly no living poet is so well qualified to familiarise the 
English mind (if that be possible) with the forms and substance 
of the Greek drama. The limits^ as well as the quality^ of his 
genius give him more than common facilities for such a task. 
His love of beauty is profound, and he loves befit, perhaps by 
nature, and certainly from study, its more abstract manifesta- 
tions, especially those of form. He uses the emotions as a field 
for the intellect, not the mind to subserve the heart, and his ima- 
gination is bound up with the former rather than the latter ; it 
is ^lamp that shines, not a fire that glows. He lays a cold hand 
on sensuous imagery; and there is a keen clear atmosphere about 
his pictures from nature, as if his muse had steeped his eyes in 
Attic air and sunshine. Thus gifted, he devotes himself to re- 
producing Greek poetry in an English dress, and presents us with 
an Athenian tragedy in our own language. We are not un- ^ 
grateful for the gift. But Mr. Arnold is not content that we 
should accept it as a beautiful curiosity, or treat it as a rare 
exotic :• he has written a preface to urge that such plants should 
be acclimatised ; he boldly demands place in English literature 
for the forms of poetry which took their rise in Greek sacrificial 
observances, adapted themselves to Greek social habits, were 
limited by Greek ideas, and embodied Greek religion, Greek pa- 
triotism, and, above all, that which is most characteristic of a 
people, — the feelings with which it looks at the hidden arbiters 
No. XII. April 1858. t 

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360 Metope: a TVagedy. 

of life, the controlling destinies of the world. That drama, which 
held these things as a wine holds its flavour and spirit, Mr. Ar- 
nold thinks should be studied in England ; not. studied to know 
it, that we may rejoice in it and the knowledge it brings with 
it, but studied to reproduce it, that we may make the same 
kind of thing for ourselves. He thinks he can dig up the dusky 
olive from the plains of Attica, and plant it in our English 
wheat-fields; that he can take in its fullest development the 
most purely indigenoufi and the most intensely and narrowly na- 
tional literature the world ever saw, and bid it find new springs 
of life some two thousand years later in a nation which has 
already found its expression in a dramatic literature evolved by 
itself. Did such an attempt ever succeed ? A native literature 
in its infancy may take the impression of a foreign one ; though 
even then, if it have strength to grow at all, it soon throws off, 
or carries only as a superficies, the marks of its early tutoring : 
but when did a foreign growth ever share the field with an indi- 
genous one ? A nation whose habits of thought were sufficiently 
congruous with those of some other, has plagiarised and adapted 
its literary productions : Terence went to Greece as Planche goes 
to Paris. But in these cases it is not a foreign form and spirit 
which is transferred, but the adapter merely studies his own idle- 
ness, or the poverty of his own resources, by borrowing a plot 
and a certain stock of wit and ideas ; and his effort is to oust a& 
that is specially foreign, or to transform it into a more familiar 

Is the epic a Greek form naturalised? It maybe so; the 
particular form of the Iliad has been adopted in great measure 
as the model of aU epics : but it is a form so broad and simple, 
lias in it so little that is special or national, that it may be said 
to be a mode of embodying imaginative ideas common to all 
mankind. It is a form which is easily separable firom the mat- 
ter, and it is the form alone which has been borrowed. No 
great poet has ever written another Greek epic. We shall not 
be confiited by Glover's Leonidas. Every one has emptied out 
the old form, and filled it with his own native ideas. The Eneid 
is Eoman; the Inferno is Florentine; the Paradise Lost is 
English. In the same way, Jonson in England and Moliere in 
Prance adhered more or less strictly to the rules deduced by the 
critics as the true conditions of comedy; but applied them to 
modem manners, modem character, and all the wider range and 
greater richness, intricacy, and variety of modern ideas. When 
we speak of form, we are apt to confound two things. There is 
a form which is one with its spirit, and is its outer manifestation ; 
there is another which is merely a sort of outside shell. It is 
this alone perhaps which in art one century or one nation can 

Digitized by 


Merfipe: a Tragedy. 261 

borrow firom anotlier; certainly it is this alone wHch we liaye 
taken in the qiic^ and in some of the broad rules which govern 
our dramatic constructions. 

But there is what is called the classical school of tragedy* 
Is this what we have professed to think impossiUe^ — a new 
birth of an art which rose like a star bo many centuries ago, 
and after its brief but imperishable shining^ fell headlong again 
into silence ? Have France and Italy revived the Athenian stage ? 
Mr. Arnold claims, and claims justly, for the tragedy of Athens, 
that though wanting in the richness of that of England, it has 
not only power and intensity, but speaks strongly to the highest 
artistic feelings in our nature, because it is steeped as it were, 
thoroi:^hly interpenetrated, by a rhythmic proportion and cor- 
respondence which governs its spirit as well as its outer form. 
Has either the greatness of its matter, or the beauty of its 
forms, been preserved by Alfieri, or Racine, or Addison, men of 
no despicable genius? The Greek tragedy is not narrow for 
ancient Greece ; that is to say, it occupies itself with the full 
field of Greek tragic thought : but the modem classical school 
is narrow. It has sought intensity by exclusion and limitation ; 
it deepens the river, not by an abundance of waters, but by nar- 
rowing in the banks, ^schylus rolls along with a sound of 
great waters. Bacine lashes a canal into foam. Hie peculiari- 
ties of form and the choice of subjects, whidi were natural and 
indispensable to Greek art, sarve only as devices to countenance 
the poverty of that of France. The ancient tales are stripped 
bare, necessarily so, of the hallowed associations of religion and 
patriotism and ancestral piety which clung to them in Greece, 
and remain naked exhibitions of human passion. Sophocles gives 
us the deep-seated workings of the hearts of men, and the terrible 
and inscrutable mysteries of mortal destiny, set to solemn music, 
clear and penetrating in its tones, if not rich in its harmony; 
like Milton's scathed angels, moving 

*' In perfect phalanx to the Dorian mood 
Of flutes and soft recorders.*' 

But his field embraces more than this. It is not the vagaries 
and stru^ling passions of the simple human heart that inspire 
his tragedies, but of hearts which are the field of action for 
the dread supernatural powers, — ^hearts which are swayed from 
their nature by divine wills, which bear the burden of ancestral 
crimes, and embody the destinies of nations. But you cannot 
have this in modem plays. When Racine's Phfedre ascribes the 
fierce flames of her unlawfiil desires to the anger of Venus, and 
tells of her vain sacrifices on the altar of the goddess, the exte- 
nuation, which must have raised something of sublime pity in a 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC - 

262 Merope : a Tragedy. 

Greek hearty falls dead and unmeaning on our ears ; it seems 
triTial, a sort of classical decoration, which interferes with our 
interest, if it affects us at all. Ph^dre does indeed agitate us 
powerfully, because our attention undistracted is tied down to 
the contemplation of a single frantic passion and a woman writh- 
ing under its torturing influence : it is not a play to be seen 
from a distance, or that could be acted in mask or buskin ; but 
it needs an audience who can catch each altered tone and every 
change of feature, and calls for the heart-piercing cries, the work- 
ing features, the pale flashes and spasmodic action of KacheL 
French tragedy screams through all its monotonous cadence, its 
stilted diction, and its formal limitations of time and place and 
persons. The same in great measure is true of Alfieri, in whom^ 
however, speaks, if not a higher genius, a stronger and more ar- 
dent nature. '^ Narrow elevation,'' says Mr. Arnold, ''is the cha- 
racteristic of Alfieri." Perhaps we should rather say narrow in- 
tensity ; and one or the other is the highest tragic characteristic 
of the modem classical drama. Nor is the form of the Greek 
drama more clearly reproduced than its matter. Mr. Arnold 
well describes the influence and beauties of the Athenian cho- 
ruses; their interpretive and enforcing functions; the repose 
that lyric song affords to the strained emotions; and the bal- 
anced rhythmic symmetry which their answering parts give to 
the whole play. But the French school dispenses with this cha- 
racteristic feature; or uses it, if at all, stripped of what makes 
it most characteristic. In brief, the modem classical drama has 
borrowed not the form but the mere shell of that of Greece, 
and even that narrowed and angularised; and though it has 
preserved a set of classical ideas to which it appeals, and a sort 
of classical phraseology which it uses, these are conventional 
and external only. There is this marked difference between the 
influence of ancient literature on the modem literature of Eng- 
land and of France, that in the former, ideas and forms, so far as 
they were adopted at all, were digested and assimilated ; in the 
latter they were simply employed to overlay and varnish : there 
was no native growth to swallow them up and be enriched by 
. them; they were greater in every way than that with which 
they came in contact, and were cruelly hacked and compressed 
to meet its meaner requirements. Mr. Arnold is fully aware of 
this ; but he makes some confusion : he uses the term 'classical 
school,' but what he really means by the term is the school of 
ancient Greece itself. He sees, or feels rather, that you cannot 
adopt its special and intricate beauty of form without adopting 
something of its inner essence ; and when he enters the lists as 
a writer in this school, he writes something not like the Cato of 
Addison, or the Irene of Johnson, but as like as he can to 

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Merope : a Tragedy. 963 

" The mellow glory of the Attic stage, 
Singer of sweet Colonus and its child." 

But the true ancient drama, which could not strike root in 
France or Italy, can still less hope to do so in England. In 
architecture, we have done much as the French did in poetry, 
— we have introduced and used freely a dwarfed and conven- 
tional classical school We have also built occasional specimens 
more or less true to the real Greek types; but these latter 
stand, and must ever stand, as curiosities. We cannot live in 
Greek houses, nor worship in Greek temples. Vain is Mr. Ar- 
nold's hope to see an English literature ^^ enriched,^' as he ex- 
presses it, "with the forms of the most perfectly formed litem* 
ture in the world." As well might he bid us retrieve the dis- 
cipline of Sparta, or replant the **groves of Academe." When 
we have rebuilt the Greek theatres, it will be time to reintro- 
duce the Greek drama. 

But this is no reason why Mr. Arnold should not, if he 
pleases, write a Greek play. Such an exercise, involving as it 
does a close and minute study of the details of ancient master- 
pieces, may be of infinite value to the poet's self, cannot be read 
(at least if done as well as it is here done) without interest 
by educated men ; and it may possibly exercise a wider influ- 
ence. It is professedly an attempt on the part of the author to 
give English readers a knowledge of what Greek tragedy was — 
to teach them the secret of its beauty and power. Aiid it is 
not impossible that something may be thus taught. True, there 
is no royal road which can give ns any adequate knowledge and 
real appreciation of ancient art ; true that this process is rather 
beginning at the wrong end, and that instead of Merope teach- 
ing us what Greek tragedy is, we ought to know what Greek tra- 
gedy was to understand what Merope is ; true that those will 
read it with the greatest pleasure and the highest appreciation 
who have got a standard with which to compare it, — gathered 
associations to which it can appeal, — ^in whose memories it stirs 
the half-effaced recollection of those pleasures when the intellect • 
and imagination in their first active spring reaped the fruits of 
schoolboy drudgery, and first comprehended how great a thingv 
they had gained. Yet for all this, half a loaf is better than no 
bread ; and many men possess an instinct which enables them 
to gather from secondary sources alone a real insight into the 
subject of their inquiry ; they manage to get hold of a sort of 
imaginative touchstone, and by means of it to pick out what is 
genuine, and discard what is adulterated. You can learn less 
perhaps of Greek literature than of any other through the me- 
dium of translations and imitations ; but you had better read 
translations and imitations of the things themselves than be con- 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

264 Merope: a Tragedy. 

tent with descriptioiis of them^ and better read descriptions of 
them than know absolutely nothing of them. 

Stilly if Mr. Arnold's object was to extend the knowledge of 
^^ Greek tragedy^ and increase the English appreciation of it, he 
onght to have written a translation, not an imitation. He has 
stated his reasons for not doing so ; and no doubt the latter is 
far pleasanter to write, and affords a better field for the powers 
of a poet; but, for eyident reasons, it is far less valuable to 
others to have Mr. Amold^s idea of what a Greek play was 
than ^schylus' or Sophocles^ idea. If he approach the English 
reader any closer by an imitation than a translation, it is by 
being so far false to his model of a true Greek play. If, on the 
otiier hand, his object is the resurrection of the Attic drama, 
we don't see why the imitation should stop short of the lan- 
guage. If it be advisable we should possess Greek subject-mat- 
ter, expressed according to Greek ideas in Greek poeti^ forms, 
why not put it into Greek words too, and make an exact repro- 
duction and a sealed book df it ? Is ancient subject-matter, then, 
excluded from modem art ? No ; but it is one thing to attempt 
to reproduce ancient art, and another to use what we know of 
ancient life as the subject of modern art. It is difficult, indeed, 
most difficult, to do even this : on the one side is the danger lest 
by seeking for accuracy poetry become lost in antiquarianism; 
on the other, lest in our ignorance we content ourselves with 
delineating skeleton passions, and not men. Shakespeare did the 
most that can be done in his Coriolanus and Csesar : he grasped 
ancient characters as firmly as he could ; and then he delineated 
them, not only in English language, but in English fi>rms of art, 
and through the medium of English ideas and English habits of 
thought. What we controvert is, the idea, openly expressed by 
Mr. Arnold, that there is an unworked side of English literature, 
in the direction of direct imitation of that of Greece. 

Yet the play of Merope merits notice, if for no other reason, 
because the genius of its author stands very distinct among that 
• of his contemporaries; and this work is an effort to exert and 
^tend its most salutary influence. There is a pleasure in read- 
ing Matthew Arnold's poems which can^ derived £rom few 
other poets of the day. It is not merely that his is the writing 
of an educated English gentieman, that barbarisms of language 
and puffed and gaudy metaphor are eschewed, that he scorns 
meretricious adornments, thinks sense of some importance, and 
is capable of escaping from himself; — it is that he has a nice sense 
of the beauty of form, and that to huddle together disjecta membra 
of poetry gives him no satis&ction ; it is that he knows, and in 
all his writings proves that he knows, that finish of execution and 
•harmony of proportion are essential to the completeness of a poem. 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

Metope: a Tragedy. 265 

It is doubtlesB tins conviction on his part winch has made 
him profess himself a follower of the classical schocd. For take 
that term in its widest signification^ as embracing all the mo- 
dem forms of art mc^e or less directly based on ancient modek^ 
and it is imposunble to deny that it is distinguished from that 
ipriiich^ for distincticm's sake rather than fix>m any innate pro- 
priety^ has been called the romantic school^ — by a more nnifcHrm 
r^ard for the proprieties of expression^ the justnesses of propor- 
tion, and the polish of details. Why this should be so it is not 
difficult to discern. It is not^ as has been sometimes supposed^ 
and as eyen Mr. Arnold seems tadtiy to assume^ because there 
is something in the Tery spirit and nature of the more modemly 
evolved literature which disregards the beauty of form ; it is be- 
cause it is an infinitely more difiBcult task to ^ve perfect sym- 
metry to the far more detailed and complex subject-matter of 
the latter. It is like the diflierence between drawing BetscVs 
outlines and painting Titian's pictures. The modem classical 
school not only obtained complete models of form^ but by using 
fcr the most part classical subject-matter also^ it made still nar- 
rower and easier than to the ancients the ccmditions under whidi 
perfection— or, we should rather say, correctness of form — was to 
DC studied : for, as we have before observed, it is the mere skde- 
ton of Greek interests and Greek ideas which can be handled 
by the modem artist. And this limitation reacted on the form ; 
for the more refined and delicate beauties of Greek art being 
inextricably bound up with the niceties of its subject-matter, in 
losing its hold of these it discarded those also, and remained 
mei^re in substance, and hard though exact in outline. 
^' The highest poetry, as Coleridge has said, is an organic 
growth. Its forms are the natural forms into which the vital 
eneigy shoots. This is especially true of the romantic school, in 
which, even in the most artificial departments, as in the drama, 
the fixed rules witbdn which the poet works are extremely broad 
and elastic It is true also of the poetry of ancient Greece; and 
though, by reason of the religious and ceremonial origin of the 
drama, the conditions were more narrow and stringent, yet each 
great poet left his own impress on the forms as well as the sub^ 
jeet-matter. It is not tme of the modem classical school. A 
gieat scientific mind made some remarks as to the conditions 
and laws of the nature of the drama as it existed in his day ; 
and these mere laws of the existing condition of an art have 
been made into laws of control, or rules, to guide the labours of 
future poets; and in later times they have both been narrowed 
and their domain extended. More or less modified, they be- 
came the basis of the modem classical school, and its followers 
have arrogated to themselves the daim of possessing a degree 

Digitized by 


266 Mercpe : a Tragedy. 

of art which others want. The daim, as we have said^ is not 
entirely unfounded. They gain something; but they lose more. 
GKven a square box, to fill it, is the French problem ; given a 
seed, to grow it, is the English. Where the conditions are al- 
ready fiimished, it is easier, within the limits, to study symmetry, 
decorum, and appropriateness of detail. A defined path to walk 
in is an aid and a support to a mediocre genius; and English 
poetry, which sufiered once from too narrow a conventionalism, 
is now rather in danger in an opposite direction from the dis- 
orderly venting of small and often incongruous spirts of imagi- 
nation, which are not the branch and bud and flower of one sin- 
gle organic growth of the imagination, but mere scattered motes 
glittering in the sunshine. But liberty is not less great because 
some are too feeble to use it aright. Conventionsdism of form 
draws with it conventionalism of phrase, and even of matter. 
Freedom is as noble and as essential in art as in life. In neither 
can we entirely dispense with laws : but the tendency of advance- 
ment is to reduce their number, and to generalise their enact- 
ments; and that moral nature and that imagination are the 
highest, which have within themselves the truest instincts of har- 
mony, and follow them with the simplest spontaneity. The evils 
of an imposed set of rules in art are like the evils of a paternal 
government : the helps of the weak are the fetters of the strong 
and aspiring; and we see a genius like that of Kacine cramped 
up in unities, tied down to a monotonous verse, and compeUed 
to sustain itself on the faded traditions of an extinct national life 
and a religion dead and powerless. It is the glory of the roman- 
tic, and especially perhaps of the English school of poetry, — ^a 
glory which raises it above ancient art itself, and immeasurably 
above its modem resuscitations and copies, — that it has dared 
to be free. That few have been found worthy of that freedom is 
true. Perhaps, on the whole, Grerman art is more harmonious 
and conscientious than English; it has not had to control ima- 
ginations so warm and daring; but where the air is freest grow 
the stateliest trees, and a literature which can show the names 
of Shakespeare and of Milton, of Dryden and of Pope, of Words- 
worth, of Bums, of Byron, and of Tennyson, may claim at least 
to have profited by the great gift of liberty. Great as is Greek 
art, infinite would be the loss to England if her poets should, in 
admiration of it, be led aside from the nobler and more difficult 
task of attempting to give perfection of form to the works of 
their native school. But this much is true, that in the study of 
Greek literature a poet may learn much of the beauty that lies 
in form ; and that what our modern literature most wants is a 
sense of the value of completeness and finish in this respect. An 
EngUsh masterwork which should fully develop the lofty grace 

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Merope : a Tragedy. 267 

and profound beauty that consummate form is capable of bestow- 
ing^ would exercise, or at least has a field for exercising, the high- 
est influence. We do not say Mr. Arnold should have attempted 
such a task. It is no derogation to his high poetical gifts to say 
that it is probably not within his power; and it is certain that 
his tastes and predilections lead him to occupy himself with less 
complex and difficult subject-matter, — ^we say less complex and 
difficult, because it is undoubtedly true that, though a modem 
poem may be as shallow and as naiTow as you please, yet one 
which avails itself to the full of those materials which Cluristian- 
ity and Western thought and civilisation have laid up, must be 
infinitely greater than one which is restricted to the materials at 
the disposal of the ancient Greeks. And moreover, Mr. Amold^s 
work is a service in the same direction : it exalts and exemplifies 
the beauty of form — indeed, is specially devoted to this object ; 
and though that beauty be sought under conditions different 
from those we now require, not easily appreciable by the mass of 
English readers, and which necessarily and deservedly prevent it 
from being popular, yet even thus it is no light gain to see it 
warmly and conscientiously sought after by a modem poet, and 
not inadequately set forth. 

But while we admit that the three Greek tragedians handled 
their subject-matter with exquisite skill, and that they evolved 
from the conditions under which they worked the highest beauty 
of which they were capable, we by no means believe that they 
were ever sensible of the full capacities, and attained to the 
highest exercise of dramatic art, or that their plays, as wholes^ 
are the highest models of form. We have neither scope nor call 
here to discuss the former of these assertions — few probably would 
dispute it ; but Mr. Arnold's preface, which has drawn us into 
these general observations, invites some remarks on the latter, 

English tragedy diflfers from that of Athens, not only in its 
forms, but in the mode in which the poet works, and in the ma- 
terials he uses. The dramas of both countries have that of course 
in common which belongs to all tragic dramas. Both deal with 
the life of man ; both find the centre of their imaginative life 
and interest in the contemplation of those dread aspects of his 
mortal destiny which have actually shown themselves, which, or 
their like, eyes have seen and ears heard. Both set forth at once 
his pride and his glory, and the slipperiness of the pinnacles to 
which he climbs ; they contrast his energy and his vast capacity 
for joy and sorrow with the briefness of his day ; they represent 
him fruitful in resource, yet feeble to break the web of cir- 
cumstance ; and in the hearts of both echoes the dim sounding 
of the mysterious all-surrounding sea which suites against thu 
bank and shoal'' of time« Yet they differ to some extent in 

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268 Merqpe : a Tragedy. 

tlie flonroes wUch tliey explore and drair from, and "widely in 
tlieir artistic mode of presentment. 

The Ghreek tragedy is much nearer narrative poetry than liie 
English ; the dramatic element is less completely devdoped. It 
deals for the most part with a single incident^ which it dilates 
npon and impresses. It is the fact which is of importance to the 
Greek tragedians^ — that these things happened whereof the^ 
speak; that the adultress thus slew her husband returning in the 
splendour of his triumph ; that the son imbrued his avenging 
sword in the blood of the mother that bore him ; that the king, 
noble in nature and fixed in power^ found suddenly that by strange 
and terrible fatality he had unwittingly, yet most horribly, de- 
filed the sanctities of nature, and in a brief leTolution of the 
scene, firom reputation and safety and a throne, was cast down 
into the dust, and thrust forth murderous and incestuous ; his 
firame yet convulsed with the agony of his discovery, his sight- 
less eyeballs yet bleedings to grope his way with trembling hands 
an exile from the land his presence desecrated. It is in these and 
such-like special dread events that the Greek artist mirrored or 
illustrated human life. He showed them on a large scale, and 
with abundant comment ; so much so, that six or eight persons 
at most, besides the chorus^ and one or two actions, sufficed for 
the exposition of the small section of event which was under- 
taken in a single play. The Greek believed in an overruling 
necessity, part gods, part fate, mainly unmoral, whose contrdl 
men were powerless to withstand. Hence bare facts in the life 
of man had a significance for him they have not for us. The 
Englishman gives a far wider causative effect to the will and na^- 
ture of each individual human being : hence he studies the life 
of man in the lives of men ; and the naked aspects of fact, how- 
ever momentous and appalling, have little interest for him unless 
he can connect them with the character of men. The cata- 
strophe of an English tragedy is developed out of the characters 
and actions of the personages introduced, mingled, as they are 
mingled in life, with sudden accident. The poet has no external 
powers, no gods to whom he can refer as an unfailing reservoir 
of forces, using men as half-passive instruments. Hence there is 
a unity in his work, arising out of its nature, to which the Greek 
play can make no pretension. The only unity of action the latter 
claims is that of selecting a single incident which in its nature 
shall be sufficiently severable from the story of which it is a part 
to have a commencement, and a sufficient resting-place at which 
to stop. There is none of that final silence and rest which falls 
over the conclusion of an English tragedy, and leaves the spec- 
tator in sad or trembling repose. The end of a Greek play is 
arbitrarily selected ; the end of an English tragedy is determi- 

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Merope : a Tragedy. 269 

nately evobred; ajdd deaths which gives the completest endings is 
necessary to this^ while it is only incidental to the former. Nay, 
a tragic event which shall move all hearts may he represented 
without ity as when Orestes' cause is pleaded against the Eume- 
nides ; and in other plays, such as The Hupplianta and The Per- 
sicmsj in which it is seen how easily the Greek drama melts into 
narration. But death is the unavoidable conclusion of an Eng- 
lish tragedy; for this represents human life, as we have before 
said, not in isolated events^ but in the whole lives and characters 
of single men ; and without death, which rounds the course of 
finte, and is the crowning incident and full completion of the 
dispensations of life^ no man's career could be ^illy depicted. 
Without it the life would be unended, and the character uncer- 
tain. For as no man is to be esteemed happy before his death, 
so no man is known before his death. Hence it is that death, 
and death only, is the consummation of English tragedy. It 
comes in various shapes^ and wakens various moods. Its deep- 
ening shadow perfects the sadness of the story of Desdemoua; it 
descends like judgment, and we tremble and exult as it hangs 
heavy over the head of the usurping Macbeth, or menaces Rich- 
aid in his dreams; or it comes like pity, longed for with tears, 
and gives rest to the overtasked spirit of Hamlet, or loosens the 
cracked heartstrings of Lear. There are no such terminations 
to the Greek {days. Their fragmentary diaracter is always ap- 
parent ; there is always a piece over, something undisposed of, 
which draws the mind beyond them into the future. Compare 
the Agamemnon and the Choephorte with Hamlet : both the latter 
end with death. In the first the hero comes home in his pride 
and his glory, and the adultress smites him in his first hour of 
confidence and rest ; but the scene closes with the guilty wife and 
her paramour exulting in their guilt. In the second the son, the 
god-inpelled avenger, reddens his hands in the blood of his 
guilty mother, and when all our interest culminates on his head 
he vanishes. He sees the furies glare, they thicken around him 
with their hideous eyes, and he flies the scene in horror. Both 
are but parts of one story, links in the chain of dread retribu- 
tions which hang over the fated house and its bloody repast of 
slaughtered children : in both the action is complete, and the 
ancient requisites satisfied -, but have they in their nature the en- 
tireness of Shakespeare's play, embracing the fuU development of 
so many men's characters, drawing so many threads of action into 
one knot, and wrapping sdl in rest with the potent poison which 
quite o'ercrows the spirit of Hamlet ? The most curious mind 
cannot ask more ; no distracting glances are cast into the future; 

' '^ Passionless calm and silence unreproved" 
fidl like consolation on the heart. Completeness is a thing of 

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270 Merope : a Tragedy, 

degree ; but the desire for it — one of the deepest of our nature in 
connection with art — 1& in the English tragedy perhaps more fully- 
gratified than in any other form employed by the poet. Within 
the boundaries of the play, the Athenian drama, however, pos- 
sesses a greater and more obvious beauty of proportioned parts, 
more delicacy of execution as to form, finer clearer lines of grace; 
and mingles in its choruses an airy calm and sweetness that must 
have relieved with an inexpressible sense of repose the interven- 
ing tragic action. The very inferiority of the form, as a whole, 
made all this more possible ; there was more room for it. * A short 
event was displayed on a large scale. An English play, which 
must show lives and characters of men in a short space tlirough 
the medium of action, must crowd in many actions and varied cir- 
cumstances ; it must be at once terse and detailed. In the Greek, 
on the other hand, the matter is spread out and enlarged upon; 
there is place for anticipation and comment, not only often oc- 
cupying much of the speeches, but having provided for it the 
whole lyric element in the play, with its infinite capacities for 
beauty. All these things are drawn into an exquisite harmony, 
more easily appreciable, yet perhaps more easily attainable, and 
in its nature not so high as that complete fusion of all subordi- 
nate elements into the whole conception of the poet of which 
the English tragedy is, by its nature at least, capable. 

We have said that the limitations of Mr. Amold^s genius 
drew him towards Greek art ; and it is so in this particular. We 
have given him full credit for his love of finish and proportion ; 
but his poems have every where shown that he is deficient in the 
higher power of conception, wliich requires unity. He balances 
strophe against antistrophe ; but he gives us a play with two 
distracting interests. He is pure in language and clear in verse ; 
but instead of a tragedy, he writes a melodrama with a sepa- 
rate tragical end to it. The story of Merope is as follows. '• We 
take it, simply for convenience, partly from each of two accounts 
which Mr. Arnold quotes in his preface : 

'* Cresphontes had not reigned long in Messenia when he was mur- 
dered together with two of his sons. And Polyphontes reigned in his 
stead, he too being of the family of Hercules ; and he had for his wife, 
against her will, Merope, the widow of the murdered king. . . . 

Merope sent away and concealed her infant son. Pol^^phontes 
sought for him every where, and promised gold to whoever should slay 
him. He, when he grew up, laid a plan to avenge the murder of his 
father and brothers. In pursuance of this plan, he came to King 
Polyphontes, and asked for the promised gold, saying he had slain the 
son of Cresphontes and Merope. The king ordered him to be hospit- 
ably entertained, intending to inquire further of him. He, being very 
tired, went to sleep ; and an old man, who was the channel through 

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Merope: a Tragedy* 271 

whom the mother and son used to communicate, arrives at this mo- 
ment in tears, bringing word to Merope that her son had disappeared 
from his protector's house. Merope, believing that the sleeping stran- 
ger is the murderer of her son, comes into the guest-chamber with an 
axe, not knowing that he whom she would slay was her son : the old 
man recognised him, and withheld Merope fi-om slaying him. After 
the recognition had taken place, Merope, to prepare the way for her 
vengeance, affected to be reconciled with Polyphontes. The<king, over- 
joyed, celebrated a sacrifice ; his guest, pretending to strike the sacri- 
ficial victim, slew the king, and so got back his fiEither's kingdom.*' 

Such is the story of Merope« Mr. Arnold does not repre- 
sent her as the wife of Polyphontes; otherwise, except perhaps to 
some extent in the character of the usurper, he has adhered to 
the tradition. We venture to say it is not well chosen for the 
purposes of a tragic dramatist. Its main interest — the anxiety of 
Merope for her son, her agony of grief for his supposed loss, 
and her narrow escape of killing him, followed by the joyful re- 
cognition between them — lies wide of tragedy. We do not say 
there are no models for such a drama in Greek literature — the 
Electro of Sophocles is very much in point ; but we say there 
were far higher models, such as either play of (Edipus or the -^w- 
tigonej and that there is an essential difference between melo- 
drama and tragedy, and that the latter is of a nobler class in 
art. In saying this, we use ' melodramatic' for want of a better 
word, and as superior at least to ' tragi-comic' to express, not the 
exaggerated display of terrors, but the characteristic of plays in 
which terror is relieved and supplanted by joy ; and we use ' tra- 
gedy' not in the general sense in which it is applied to the whole 
serious drama of the Greeks, but in the narrower and more de- 
terminate sense in which it is used in romantic literature. Escape 
has no place in true tragedy. The existence of it entirely changes 
the whole attitude of the mind. If it be said, that until the 
denouement comes the attitude of the mind is the same in the 
melodrama, we say that it is not tragedy to the end, and that 
consummation is of the essence of tragedy; moreover, that even 
this temporary feeling can only be excited on a first reading or 
representation ; and that a drama is not like a rocket to be ex- 
pended in the first using, but must be little worthy the name 
unless it affords matter that will more or less repay a close fa- 
miliarity and repeated perusal. Practically, it is not one in ten 
thousand who comes to a play or novel ignorant of whether it 
ends, as we say, well or ill. The details of a surprise may be 
concealed, and give pleasure ; but rarely indeed can a work of 
*art depend for its interest on a concealment of the direction 
of its conclusion; and where it does so, it is no very worthy 
source of interest. We may assume, then, that in the mclo- 

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272 Merope : a Tragedy. 

drama the reader or spectator knows the safety that is in store ; 
and this affects all his feelings. His heart leans upon the fu- 
ture: he sympathises^ indeed^ with present sorrows; but he 
is sustained by the knowledge that they are not to be lasting. 
Within the narrow limits of a play there is a sort of distraction 
between the emotion in the scene and the superior knowledge 
and different resources the spectator possesses within his own 
mind. It prevents entireness of S3rmpathy. There is less sim- 
plicity, less reality^ than in tragedy; and this is perhaps one of 
the main grounds of the superiority of the latter. Both are 
legitimate expressions of art, but tragedy the higher. Perhaps 
the reverse is the case in the novel. The passions are not moved 
in the same way. The interests are not so simple^ exclusive^ 
and swiftly accumulated. They are spread out and varied ; the 
tragic element is intermittent^ relieved, and softened, and a 
thousand minor sources of occupation to the mind and feelings 
2ae woven in with it. Tragedy rises like a doud that spreads 
quickly over the heavens^ and goes down with storm and night 
into the sea: a prose fiction dawns and shines and sets like a 
whole day of mingled weather, whether it be April, or August, 
or December. In the minuter detail and greater length of the 
novel, we require the repose we derive from our confidence in 
a happy termination. We cannot bear to be harrowed through 
three volumes, and find no reKef at the end of them. The 
universal feeling is undoubtedly true. A novel that ends well 
is as much more perfect a work of prose fiction than one which 
ends tragically, as a tragic play is superior to a melodramatic 

Merope, then, is not a subject that affords scope for the highest 
kind of dramatic art. Our interest in her story is one not tragi- 
cal in its nature, but of transient grief and terror. Moreover, it 
ceases when, long before the conclusion of the play, the mother 
clasps her uninjiired and recognised child in her arms. Hence- 
forth for them the tale is told, and the play played out. All the 
passion and life of the poem are here concentrated : the author 
has carefully and skilfully used all the materials of the play to 
develop this crisis with simplicity and dramatic effect, and has 
employed the utmost vigour and pathos of which he is master to 
heighten the effect and to stir the emotions. We can give no 
extract which will do fuller justice to the genius that shines in 
the play than a part of this scene : 

^'Merope. From the altar, the unavenged tomb, 
Fetch me the sacrifice-axe ! — 

[ Tlie Chorus goes towards the tomb of Cbesphoktes, and 
their leader brings back the axe, 
Husband, clothed 

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Merope: « Troffedy. S7S 

With the grave's everlasting, 
AU-ooTering darkness ! O Kixig^ 
Well mourned, but lU-aTeng'd ! 
Approv'st thou thy wife now ? — 
The axe ! — who brings it ? 

The Chorus. *Tis here ! 

But thy gesture, thy look, 
Appals me, shakes me with awe. 

Merope. Thrust back now the bolt of that door ! 

The Chorus. Alas! alas!— 
Behold the fastenings withdrawn 
Of the guest-chamber door ! — 
Ah! I beseech thee — with tears— 

Merope. Throw the door open ! 

The Chorus. Tie donel . . . 

ITke door of the house is throum open : the interior 0/ tlie guest- 
chamber is discovered^ with .^ttus a^ep on a couch. 

Merope. He sleeps — sleeps oaim. ye all-fleeing Gods ! 
Thus peacefully do ye let sinners sleep^ 
While troubled innocents toss and lie awake 1 
What sweeter sleep than this could I desire 
For thee, my child, if thou wert yet alive ? 
How often have I dream'd of thee like this, 
With thy soil'd hunting-coat, and sandals torn. 
Asleep in the Arcadian glens at noon. 
Thy head droop*d softly, and the golden curls 
Clustering o*er thy white forehead, like a girPs ; 
The short proud lip showii^ thy race, thy cheeks 
Bro^pi'd with thine open-air, free, banter's life. 
Ah me ! . . . 

And where dost thou sleep now, my innocent boy ? — 
In some dark fir-tree's shadow, amid rocks 
Untrodden, on QyUene's desolate side ; 
Wha« travellers never pass, where only come 
Wild beasts, and vultures sailing overhead. 
There, there thou liest now, my hapless child ! 
Btretch'd among briera and stones, the slow, black gore 
Oozing through thy soak'd hunting-shirt, with limbs 
Yet stark from the death-struggle tight-clench'd hands. 
And eyeballs staring for revenge in vain. 
Ah miserable ! . . . 

And thou, thou fair-skinn'd Serpent ! thou art laid 
In a rich chamber, on a happy bed. 
In a king's house, thy victim's heritage; 
And drimc'st untroubled slumber, to deep off 
The toils of thy foul service, till thou wake 
Eefresh'd, and claim thy master's thanks and gold. 
Wake up in hell from thine unhallow'd sleep, 
Thou smiling Fi^d, and daim thy ffuerdon there ! 
Wake amid ^loom, and howling, and the noise 
Of sinners pinion 'd on the torturing wheel, 
And the stanch Furies' never-silent scourge, 
And bid the chief-tormentors there proviae 
For a grand culprit shortly coming down. 
Go thou the first, and usher in thy lord 1 
A more just stroke than that thou gav'st my son. 

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274 Merope: a Tragedy, 


[Mbbopb advances towards the sleeping JEpttus, with the axe 
uplifted. At the same moment Abcas returns. 

Areas (to the Chorus), Not with him to council did the King 
Carry his messenger, but left him here. 

{Sees Mehopb and .£pttu8. 
Gods ! . • . 

Merope. Foolish old man, thou spoil'st my blow ! 

Areas. What do I see f 

Merope. A murderer at death's door. 

Therefore no words 1 

Areas. A murderer? . . . 

Merope. And a captive 

To the dear next-of-kin of him he murder'd. 
Stand, and let vengeance pass ! 

Areas. Hold, Queen, hold ! 

Thou know'st not whom thou strik'st. . . . 

Merope. I know his crime. 

Areas. Unhappy one ! thou strik'st — 

Merope. A most just blow. 

Areas. No, by the Gods, thou slay'st — 

Merope. Stand off ! 

Areas. Thy son 1 

Merope. Ah I* • . . 

IShe lets the axe drop, and falls insensible.^' 

The remainder of the play rests solely on the fate of Poly- 
phontes. We have in this a true tragic element ; and Mr. Ar- 
nold does all in his power to raise it up and make it replace the 
other interest which is exhausted. But the attempt is iruitless ; 
\/ not only so, — it ought not to have been made. It does not do 
to have two strings to a tragedy ; you may have subordinate in- 
terests, but not double, still less shiilting ones. You may write a 
tragedy of PoIyphonteSy or a melodrama of Merope, but not both 
in the same play. As it is, Polyphontes is neither strictly sub- 
ordinated nor made the main interest. The Electra is better in 
this respect. After the recognition between the brother and sis- 
ter, what remains, though essential, is cut short ; Clytemnestra 
and iEgisthus are hurried briefly and swiftly to their doom, and 
^gisthus never even appears on the stage until the last scene. In 
Mr. Amold^s play, where the natural strength of the interest is 
with Merope, he does all in his power to raise up a subsidiary one 
in Polyphontes, which he holds as a reser\'e when the former one 
flags. He binds the king up in the moral interest of the play y and 
he endeavours to give him such a character as shall occupy our 
attention, and attract our sympathies to his fate. The disquisi- 
tional parts of the play are skilfiiUy managed, and give place for 
some thought and for stately and eloquent phrase and polished 
verse. "When we say that the poetry here has something in it of 
coldness and the clear-cut edges, and, to us, almost bald senten- 

* She was an Oxford woman. 

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Merope : a Tragedy. 275 

tiousness of his Greek models^ Mr. Arnold will feel flattered^ and 
his readers will feel disheartened. The main moral is simple 
and Greek enough^ that blood demands expiatory blood ; con- 
nected with which is another somewhat deeper and less Greek, 
viz. that no man can be so sure of himself and his motives as to 
be justified in making himself arbitrary judge of another/ and in 
shedding blood and assuming power himself for the supposed wel- 
fare of others. We presume, at least, that this idea is to be con- 
veyed, though it is rendered somewhat perplexed by the obscurity 
— we may say, the studied obscurity — which is cast over the cha- 
racter and actions of Polyphontes. His. ch^acter, Mr. Arnold 
tells us, is not fixed by the tradition ; and he feels free to deal 
with it as he judges best. " A finer tragic feeling, it seems to 
me,*^ he says, '^ is produced, if Polyphontes is represented as not 
wholly black and inexcusable, than {£ he is represented as a mere 
monster of cruelty and hypocrisy. Aristotle^s profound remark 
is well known, — that the tragic personage whose ruin is repre- 
sented should be a personage neither eminently good, nor yet 
one brought to ruin by sheer iniquity ; nay, that his character 
should incline rather to good than to bad, but that he should 
have some fault which impels him to his fall.^' 

Curiously enough, however, instead of painting Polyphontes 
partly good and partly bad, the poet leaves it uncertain whether 
he is good or is bad. He paints two characters — the one of a 
man of a determined spirit, and capable of generoiis devotion to 
another, whom a deep sense of patriotism and justice had com- 
pelled to rise in arms against and sacrifice the life of the king 
whom hitherto he had faithfully served; the other, of a man 
who rebels against and murders his king that he may usurp the 
throne for Ins own advantage. Polyphontes represents himself 
in the one light, Merope represents him in the other ; and the 
reader is fiimished with no clue to judge between them, or to 
decide whether Polyphontes speaks truly or hypocritically. This 
doubt and perplexity as to the real bent of his character is car- 
ried on to the very end of the play. His death does not help to 
clear it, and Merope herself is unable to see her way out of the 
puzzle; her last words confess the enigma to be insoluble : 

" What meantest thou, Polyphontes, what 
Desired'st thou, what truly spurr'd thee on % 
Was policy of state, the ascendency 
Of the Heracleidan conquerors, as thou saidst, 
Indeed thy lifelong passion and sole aim ? 
Or didst thou but, as cautious schemers use, 
Cloak thine ambition with these specious words ? 
I know not ; just, in either case, the stroke 
Which laid thee low, for blood requires blood : 
But yet, not knowing this, I triumph not 


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276 Merqpe : a Tragedy. 

Over thj oorpse, triumph not, neither moura ; 
For I find worth in thee, and badness too." 

A mixed character no doubt is fitted to tragedy; but a 
dubious character is fitted to no dramatic art whatever. This 
is not the case of a complex character not easily decipherable^ 
but of two simple enough sets of opposite qualities ascribed to one 
man; and the play must be read to appreciate how nicely the 
see-saw between the two is kept up^ and how distracting an in- 
fluence it exerts. From the preface, indeed, we may gather which 
way the balance was intended to incline; and we presume (though 
even with this assistance we walk very uncertainly) that Poly- 
phontes is intended to be represented as a man of noble nature^ 
and whose rebellion was actuated in the main by noble motives ; 
but in whose breast lay a vein of personal and selfish ambition 
half concealed, and but half concealed, from the consciousness of 
its owner. The fate of such a man might take a tragic interest 
which would deserve not to be eclipsed even by separate interests 
gathered round another : but if such was indeed the writer^s aim, 
he has shot wide of his mark. The tsjct is, the forms of the 
Greek drama scarcely afford scope for the filill development of 
such a character, which demands greater detail and variety of 
circumstance in its exhibition than can there be possibly afforded. 
Indeed, in placing such a character on the stage at all, Mr. Ar- 
nold can scarcely be said to be true to his model. The general 
language which Aristotle uses of a man not wholly good or bad, 
but leaning one way rather than the other, i& very descriptive of 
the amount of human character which the Greek drama required. 
It uses the men to bring out the story. It does not dwell upon 
or seek to display the self-originating springs of action. Man 
stands there as a more or less passive instrument, on which 
destiny, the gods, and circumstance play; and the character 
assigned him is only as it were the setting of that instrument at 
a certain pitch. A character like that which we have presumed 
the author intends for Polyphontes confuses a Greek play; it 
raises a crowd of moral questions and dilemmas which have no 
place there. Merope's simple dictum on his death, — 

** just in either case the stroke 
Which laid thee low, for blood requires blood," — 

does not satisfy us. We are launched on the inquiry whether 
the blood was rightly shed : we seek to know whether the man 
was true to himself, — ^whether his own conscience exonerated 
him ; and these are not questions either to be asked or solved in 
Greek tragedy. It concerns itself full little with the motives of 
action. Herein Mr. Arnold has scarcely been true either to the 
outward destiny-controlled morality of ancient Greece, or the 

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Merope; a Tragedy. 277 

placid acquiescence8 of modem Oxford. It is not this, however, 
but the duality of nature we have before spoken of, which pre- 
vents our taking an interest in Polyphontes, or even graspiag 
hiip at all by the imagination. We read his speeches, and ad- 
mire them; but have no notion of the man, and therefore care " 
not for his fate. When -ZEpjrtus slays him, we feel indifferent 
whether he had struck the steer or the king : our only impres- 
sion is, that an elderly insoluble riddle is dead. We are grateful, 
but not moved. 

These are faults, and they are such as were to be looked for 
from our former experience of the author's writings. We sup- 
pose the phrenologists would say he wants individuality. He does ^ 
not grasp wholes, or even the larger aspects of things. It is in 
his details we learn how fine a poetic faculty he really possesses. 
His is not a_a£ative^ilLis-aa_expreasive-genius. Hence some of 
his best poems are those in which he gives a direct voice to his 
own feelings. He has not that tranquil and complete imagination 
which without effort embraces a wide field, and compels it into a 
small and perfect circle of creative art ; and which, working out- 
ward fi:om an inner conception, stamps the harmony of its own 
nature on its work. Few indeed are the poets that possess it, 
Matthew Arnold's is a symmetrical rather than a harmonious 
genius. He creates parts, and adjusts them together. He wants 
depth and largeness of artistic power; but he has an exquisite 
taste, the faculty that detects at least minor disproportions and 
discrepancies. He has a nice sense of fitness and proportion, and, 
in all that goes to furnish beauty and finish of execution, it would 
not be easy to rival him among living poets. His poetry wants 
power : this play does not move you deeply, nor leave as a whole 
any profound impression ; but step by step it is to be read with 
a high degree of pleasure, and of a high kind. For the author 
is rich in poetic instincts, and not devoid of the true poet's in- 
sight, and his work is informed throughout with an unfailing 
life of imagiuation and fancy. Moreover, his feujulties are never 
strained — he strikes no note above his natural compass. The 
whole conception of the tragedy perhaps taxes his powers fuUy 
as far as they can bear ; but in the conduct of it he every where 
displays the decent composure of moderate strength, none of the 
spasmodic effort of weakness. He has a reticence which enables 
you to enjoy him with a sense that there is more power in re- 
serve, and sometimes a glowing coal breaks out through the 
lambent play of imaginative diction which generally characterises 
him — and it is imaginative, not fanciful. Almost always he 
writes from the deeper hold of the imagination, not from the 
lighter grasp of fancy. It is fancy, perhaps, though in her very 
highest mood, that speaks of 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC ■ 

278 Merope : a Tragedy. 

" lightning passion, that with grasp of fire 
Advancest to the middle of a deed 
Almost before 'tis pbuined ;" 

but it is imagination that gives their beauty to so many of the 
choruses^ and to that exquisite piece of descriptive writing detail- 
ing the supposed death of iEpytus. He has come nearer, we 
think^ than any other candidate to giving the effect of the Greek 
chorus. Though his verse wants something of varied cadence 
and music^ and the changes lie within too limited a range : and 
though^ too^ the sharp incessant ictus strikes with something of 
an artificial sound on the ear^ yet he has caught something of 
that warbling lyric effect which is most characteristic of the 
ancient choruses^ and makes them more like the singing of 
birds than any other music. 


Did I then waver str, 1. 

(0 woman's judgment !) 

Misled bj seeming 

Success of crime ? 

And ask, if sometimes 

The Gods, perhaps, aUow'd you, 

lawless daring of the strong, 

self-will recklessly indulged ? 

Not time, not lightning, anL 1. 

Kot rain, not thunder, 

Efface the endless 

Decrees of Heaven. 

Make Justice alter, 

Revoke, assuage her sentence. 

Which dooms dread ends to dreadful deeds, 

And violent deaths to violent men. 

But the signal example str. 2. 

Of invariableness of justice 

Our glorious founder 

Hercules gave us. 

Son lov'd of Zeus his father : for he err*d. 

And the strand of Euboea, ant. 2. 

And the promontory of Censum, 

His painful, solemn 

Punishment witnessM, 

Beheld his expiation : for he died. 

villages of (Eta ^r. 3. 

With hedges of the wild rose ! 

pastures of the mountain. 

Of short grass, beaded with dew, 

Between the pine-woods and the cliflfs I 

cliffs, left by the eagles. 

On that mom, when the smoke-cloud 

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Merope: a Tragedy. 279 

From the oak-built, fiercelj-buming pyre, 

Up the precipices of Trachis, 

Drove them screaming from their eyries ! 

A willing, a willing sacrifice on that day 

Ye witnessed, ye mountain lawns, 

When the shirt-wrapt, poison-blistered Hero 

Ascended, with undaunted heart, 

Living, his own funeral-pile, 

And stood, shouting for a fierytorch ; 

And the kind, chauce-aniv^d Wanderer, 

The inheritor of the bow, 

Coming swiftly through the sad Trachinians, 

Put the torch to the pile : 

That the flame tower d on high to the Heaven ; 

Bearing with it, to Olympus, 

To the side of Hebe, 

To immortal delight, 

The labour-releas*d Hero. 

heritage of Neleus, ant, 3. 

Ill-kept by his infirm heirs ! 

kingdom of Messend, 

Of rich soil, chosen by craft, 

Possess'd in hatred, lost in blood ! 

town, high Stenyclaros, 

With new walls, which the victors 

From the four-town*d, mountain-shadow'd Doris, 

For their Hercules-issu'd nrinces 

Built in strength against tne vanquished ! 

Another, ano&er sacrifice on this day 

Ye witness, ve new-built towers ! 

When the white-rob'd, garland-crowned Monarch 

Approaches, with undoubting heart. 

Living, his own sacrifice-block, 

And stands, shouting for a slaughterous axe ; 

And the stem, Destiny-brought Stranger, 

The inheritor of the realm, 

Coming swiftly through the jocund Dorians, 

Drives the axe to its goal : 

That the blood rushes in streams to the dust ; 

Bearing with it, to Erinnys, 

To the Gods of Hades, 

To the dead unavenged. 

The fiercely-requir'd Victim. 

Knowing he did it, unknowing pays for it. epode* 

Unknowmg, unknowing, 

Thinking aton'd-for 

Deeds unatonable, 

Thinking appeas'd 

Gods unappeasable, 

Lo, the Ill-fated One, 

Standing for harbour, 

Right at the harbour-mouth, 

Strikes, with all sail set, 

Full on the sharp-pointed 

Needle of ruin r 


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[ 280 ] 


Uirich von Hutten. Von David Friederich Strauss. 2 vols. Leip- 
zig : F. A. Brockhaus, 1858. 

EpistoluB Obscurarum Yirorum^ aliaque ^vi Decimi Sexti Moni- 
menta rarimma. Die Brief e der Mnsterlinge an Magister Ortui- 
nu8 von Deventer, nehst andem sehr seltenen Beitragen zur lAU 
teratur- Sitten- und Kircliengeschichte des seckzehnten Jahrhun- 
deists, Herausgegeben und erldutert durck Dr, Ernst MUnch, 
{Letters of Obscure Men to Master Ortuinus of Deventer, with 
other very rare Contributions to the History of Letters, MannerSy 
arid the Church in the \^th Century. Edited and elucidated by 
Dr. Ernest Miinch.) Leipzig, 1827. 

OoNsiDERiNGitlie important part which Uirich von Hutten played 
in the history of the Reformation^ singularly little is known 
concerning him^ To men in other respects well informed he is 
scarcely more than a name. A few paragraphs^ a sentence, an 
allusion, are all that is afforded him in the popular histories of 
his time. Those histories, it is true, have been mainly written 
by theologians; and Hutten's, though in many respects a manly 
and noble character, is not one to find favour with divines. His 
faults are those at which they are always ready to cast the first 
stone ; and which the Lutheranism of his latter days, though, 
like charity, it will cover a multitude of sins, has not been able 
entirely to veil. 

And yet Hutten, more fitly perhaps than any of his contem- 
poraries, might stand as the representative man of his age. He 
did not, it is true, like Erasmus, "lay the egg of the Reforma- 
tion," nor, like Luther, "hatch it." He was not so great a man, 
it is needless to say, as either of these. But while they embo- 
died single tendencies, the religious and the humanistic, in un- 
balanced excess, in Hutten all the conflicting forces of the age 
were epitomised. In him, we see his own time, as it were in 
microcosm. Scholar, knight, soldier, a partisan of the Emperor 
against the Pope, and of Luther against the corruptions and 
^^ heresies" of Rome ; a vindicator of the privileges of the feudal 
nobility against the encroachments of the sovereign princes, — 
there is scarcely an aspect of his age, political, social, rdigious, or 
literary, to which his character does not present a corresponding 
phase. When to this we add the romantic interest of his life, 
whose vicissitudes and troubles St. Paulas words describe with- 
out exaggeration, — "In joumeyings often, in perils of waters, 
in perils of robbers, ... in perils in the city, in perils in the 
wUdemess, in perils in the sea;, in perils among fdse brethren. 

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Straim's Life of Ulrich von Hutten. 281 

in weariness and painfulness^ in hunger and thirsty in cold and 
nakedness/' — ^we are snrporised that a character and career as 
attractive to the lover of the wonderful and adventurous^ as it is 
significant to the philosophic student of histoiy^ should have been 
Irfk to Dr. Strauss now for the first time worthily to set forth. 
He has diligently consulted all the materials which the worka 
of his predecessors and literary collections have made accessible 
to him. Booking, who has long been engaged on a collective 
edition of Ulrich von Hutten's writings, to supersede the slovenly 
and inaccurate volumes of Miinch, has generously placed at 
Strauss's disposal the results of his researches and criticisms. 
Of the literary skill with which these elements are worked up, 
no reader of our author^s former biographies will require to be 
assured. Strauss is no hero- worshiper. No one was ever less 
infected with the '' lues Boswelliana, or disease of admiration/' to 
which, as Lord Macaulay urges (and in some passages of his his- 
tory, perhaps, illustrates), "biographers, translators, editors, all, in 
short, who employ themselves in illustrating the lives or the writ- 
ings of others, are peculiarly exposed.'' His cool judgment and 
dear analytic faculty protect him fi:om this danger, as self-reliance 
is said to protect one against physical distemper. Dr. Strauss 
does not project himself into his subject. He stands calmly above 
it, surveying it. The figures do not breathe and move on the 
canvas. They are dissected on the surgeon's table, and lectured 
upon. No doubt, a biography written in this judicial spirit loses 
in interest, if it gains in impartiality. Of the solar rays, it is the 
province of some, we are told, to convey light, of others to carry 
heat, to the world. Dr. Strauss shines brightly upon his subject ; 
but he shines exclusively with luminiferous rays. He gives out 
none of that quickening warmth which is able to make the dry 
bones of past events and half-forgotten men live again. Disap- 
pointing as this phlegmatic impassive temperament occasionally 
is, it is much better than the forced " geniality/' the strained 
enthusiasm, the ambition above all things to be vivid and pic- 
turesque, which is a growing fault of English biographers. We 
are never, in the case of Dr. Strauss, distracted with painful 
doubts as to whether a particular passage is intended to be 
admired as eloquent, or received as true. Conscientious fidelity, 
entire fireedom firom exaggeration, — the first and essential qualifi- 
cations of the historian and biographer, just as truthfulness is 
the ground of all other virtues, — preeminently characterise him. 
In Strauss's previous biographies, it is easy to perceive a 
doctrinal purpose, underlying the narrative, and colouring the 
auUior's reflections. He values the Greek element of our civili- 
sation more than the Hebrew, pits the Classics against the Scrip- 
tures as instruments of individual culture and national health 

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282 Strauss' 8 Life of Ulrich van Hutten. 

and strength. There is a polemic aim also in the work before 
us^ though of a somewhat different kind^ and likely to enlist a 
wider range of sympathies. Hutten, indeed, would hardly serve 
to point the moral which was drawn firom the lives of Frisch- 
lin, Schubart, and Marklin. He did not turn from theology to 
literature, but beginning with the humanist passed over to the 
Lutheran party. He was always, however, an intense asserter 
of German nationality, — of secular rights against ecclesiastical 
domination. The untoward events which have called forth Bun- 
sen^s Signs of the Times, — ^the insidious encroachments of Pro- 
testant synods no less than of Papal hierarchies upon freedom 
of conscience in Grermany, — have evidently been inducements to 
the preparation of this book. But Hutten's own character and 
writings tell their tale so plainly, that there is no need for the 
author to appear as chorus, and point out their significance and 
application to the present time. Moreover, the impressive nature 
of the man, — whom Melancthon feared and wondered at while he 
esteemed, — keeps the biographer more faithful than he is wont 
to be to his allegiance, which is (so far as may be) to depict his 
hero in his habit as he lived, and not to moralise about him. The 
following passage of the preface, and the concluding paragraph of 
the biography, which is in the same vein, are almost the only 
portions of the work into which contemporary references intrude : 

^' For the rest, throughout this book I wish for not merely satisfied 
and &vourable, but also right many dissatisfied readers. What kind of 
book on Ulrich Hutten would that be, with which all the world should 
be pleased) Would that my memoir might vex to the heart those 
whom our hero would vex if he were living to-day ! May they desire 
to shatter the mirror, out of which their own countenance stares them 
so unflatteringly in the face ! It is this which is excellent in Hutton, 
that throughout he called things and persons, most of all the bad, by 
their right names. In this time of Concordats (to mention but one 
of its evil symptoms), the image of such a man rises as if invoked. 
Hutten was, to his last breath, the enemy of papal Rome ; he knew, 
and will tell us why, he was so. Indeed, just as he pointed out to his 
contemporaries the Turks in Kome, so would he to-day find Home in 
more than one Protestant consistory. 

He does not, however, in this first volume come before us in conflict 
against Rome. We shall first see him at school (dne Schule machm\ 
preparing himself, by skirmishes with lesser foes, for the great work of 
his life. The second volume will bring us for the first time before the 
walls of the Romish Troy, which he was among the foremost to attack, 
in order at the last, reversing the case of Philoctetes (ein ungekehrier 
PhUoktet) to die on the island of his serpent-wounds. But his arrows 
are immortal, and wherever in German lands a battle is gained against 
obscurantism and spiritual tyranny, against priestcraft and despotism^ 
there have Hutten's weapons been." (voL i. pp. xii-xiv.) 

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StrauBg's lAfe of Ulrich von Hutten. 283 

The family of Hutten had long been possessed of knightly 
Tank in Franconia. Family traditions traced them back to the 
tenth century; documents^ less complacent^ stopped at the second 
half of the thirteenth. Their power was great. In the feud^ 
of which- we shall afterwards have to speak, with the Duke of 
Wurtembui^, it was the boast of Ludwig von Hutten that he 
could bring into the field twice as many knights as his princely 
enemy. The different branches of the family had dispersed widely, 
and were possessed of many feudal keeps. Ulrich von Hutten 
first saw the light at Steckelburg, on the 21st of April 1488, at 
half-past ten o'clock in the moftiing. To the position of the 
stars at his natal hour Melancthon attributed the bodily illness 
which afficted his friend throughout his life. But it is too evi- 
dent that the cruel malady to which most of his sufferings were 
due had its origin in other than celestial influences. They are to 
be traced, as the post-mortem examination which Dr. Strauss has 
instituted in his chapter on "Hutten's Krankheit'^ makes plain, 
not to the Aphrodite Urania, but to the Aphrodite Pandemos. 

As a child, however, Hutten was delicate, and like most deli- 
cate children intellectually precocious. This circumstance deter- 
mined his parents, although he was the eldest son, to bring him 
up to a priestly rather than a knightly life. At the age of eleven, 
in the year 1499, he was sent to the neighbouring Benedictine 
abbey of Pulda, with a view to his taking upon himself monastic 
vows. The Benedictines have always been celebrated for their 
cultivation of letters, and Fulda was at one time in the highest 
repute among their schools. It had already begun to decline; 
and a rigid ecclcsiasticism was usurping the place of a more 
liberal discipline. There was enough of the former to disgust, 
and of the latter to attract, Hutten. And when the intercession 
of the noble Eitelwolf von Stein, whom Strauss celebrates as the 
first in Germany to unite the higher order of scholarship with 
profound mastery of affairs, failed to induce Ukich's parents to 
revise their determination concerning him, the lad took the 
matter into his own hands by running away. It is probable 
that he was prompted to this step by his friend Crotus Bubianus, 
who balanced his accounts with the Church of Bome by himself 
afterwards espousing her cause against the humanists and re- 
formers, to whom he had been instrumental in giving Hutten. 
A more remarkable coincidence and contrast is thus illustrated 
by our author : 

'' Not long after Hutten's escape in this wise out of the cloister at 
Fulda into the world, Luther fled from the world into the cloister at 
Erfurt. This contrast strikingly illustrates the nature and disposition 
of the two heroes ; the one is bent on intercourse with men, the other 

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284 8traiu8t?9 Life of Ulrieh vm Hutfen. 

cm dealing his account witli Ood. It Ib true that afterwards the latter 
acknowledges that he has chosen a fabse path, and deserts the doister ; 
without, however^ bemg able again to get rid of the impress whidi his 
mode of thought and action there received. With all the breadth and 
grandeur of his later working, Luther remained a strictly self-endoeed, 
but yet a derical, and thereby fettered and eclipsed personality {bUeb 
Luther eine streng in sick zusammengefasste, aher avih eine geiaiUche, 
dadurch g^nindene und verdiisterte FersonlichkeU) ; while Hutten's is 
a worldly, knightly, free nature, cheerful even in misfortune ; but, it 
must be confessed, inconstant also, and presumptuous in its actiyity." 

The four years (1505-9) which followed Hutten's flight fipom 
Pnlda were spent in academic studies at Erfurt, Cologne, and 
Frankfiirt-on-the-Oder, and in what we may call a " long-vaca- 
tion tour*' through Germany. Relations were entirely broken 
off between Ulrieh and his father, who probably did not know 
whither his son had betaken himself. The latter, in the mean 
time, was supported by his kinsman Ludwig von Hutten (whose 
favours he afterwards had opportunity of effectually returning), 
by Eitelwolf von Stein, and by other noble and princely patrons 
to whom Eitelwolf had made him known. This period is me- 
morable in Hutten's life for his silent progress in those humane 
studies which gave the colouring to his whole subsequent career, 
and which shone through the thin overcoat of quasi-Lutheran 
sentiment which was laid on in his last years ; for the forma- 
tion of many literary acquaintances whose names, illustrious in 
their day, serve now only to remind us how quickly even *'the 
memory of the just" may perish ; and for his own first literary 
efforts. These were three Latin poems : (1) Elegies to his friend 
Eoban Hesse; (2) a eulogistic poem on the Marches of Bran- 
*denburg {in laudem Marchics); and (3) an elegiac exhortation 
concerning Virtue. While sho^ving mechanical facility and lite- 
rary skill, and a study to some purpose of the antique modeln, 
^' they do not," says Strauss, "bear the proper stamp of Hutten's 
genius." He had not yet found himself; no demand upon his 
strength had told him as yet where that strength lay. They are 
little more than rhetorical exercises ; those tentative efforts by 
which it is given to most young poets to master the mechanical 
difficulties, to clear the channel for the free flow of the inspira- 
tion, when at last it shall well up from its yet sealed fountains.* 

* The following verses from the poem on Virtue, which seem to prefigure their 
author's career, are smooth and elegant. The sentiment (commonplace as it is) 
is one of those which makes poetry of the most unpromising materials, and which 
comes home to eyerj one even iu its most inarticulate and stammering utterance: 
<* Ipse ego dum varise meditor discrimina sortis, 
Dum dubias vitsB difficilesque vias 
Diversasqne adeo curas hominumque labores, 
Ingemit et tristi mens mihi corde dolet." 

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Sirausg'i Ufe of Ubich von Hutten. 285 

In the early part of the year 1509 Hutten suddenly disap- 
peared from Frankfort^ and for a twelvemonth his Mends re- 
eeived no tidings of him. What befell in the interval we know 
only from his own afiber account^ and from the writings to which 
his adventures gave occasion. He describes himself as having 
suffered much by land and by water, 

^* Plorima passus aquis^ et terra plurima passus.'' 

Of his mishaps on the sea, we know nothing. He reintroduces 
himself to us first as a houseless wanderer on the Pomeranian 
coast, — sick, destitute, begging his way from door to door, and 
sleeping in the open air. What led him thither he does not 
explain, and it is useless to conjecture.^ Hutten^s motives and 
impulses defy analysis and computation. He is one of those 
persons who are always to be found where you least expect them. 
What is it that induces Madame Ida Pfeiffer to travel alone in 
Madagascar and Timbuctoo? " Hijtten,^' says Strauss, "was a 
restless spirit. The lust of travel [Wanderlust) lay deep in his 
nature.^^ The spirit of adventure possessed him, and carried liini 
(like the possessed of old) whither he would not. In two lines 
of his own he has said all that is to be said on the subject : 

'' llusquam habitare magis quam me delectat ubique 
Uudiqae sunt patrisc rura domusque mess.^ 

Afflicted with quartan fever, and with suppurating wounds, 
Hutten made his way, in the manner we have described, to 
Greifswald, where Henning Loz, " Ordinary Professor of Laws, 
Canon of the Collegiate Church of St. Nicolai, and ' Generaloffi- 
cial' of the Bishop of Camin, between the Swene and the Oder,'' 
seemed disposed to play the part of the good Samaritan. " He 
received Hutten into his house ; clothed him, probably out of his 
fisither's stores," — ^his father, Wedeg Loz, was burgomaster, and 
a wealthy merchant, — *' and advanced him money." For a time 
all went on well; but the demeanour of the Lozes gradually 
changed. They became insolent and overbearing; and when 
Hutten, who represents himself as having been conciliatory and 
submissive in the extreme, — though, as Strauss says, he was no 
lamb at any time, — ^wished to leave them, they declined to let 
him go until he had repaid them their advances. He repre- 
sented that they could get nothing by detaining him ; whereas 
*'he might perhaps succeed in making his fortune ekewhere, and 
would then satisfy them." With health not yet reestablished, he 
quitted Greifswald. Afler crossing a frozen bog, he had just en- 
tered a willow-plantation, fourteen miles distant from the place 
he left, when horsemen opposed him and bade him halt. They 
were Loz's servants. They stripped him of his clothes, and rob- 

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286 Strauss^ 8 Life of Ulrich von Hvtten. 

bing bim besides of a small parcel containing a few books and 
some songs^ left bim^ with scofis and insults^ to pursue his journey^ 
— ^it was a bitterly cold day towards the end of December, '' all 
the water, even the sea by the shore being frozen,'^ — ^half-naked 
to Rostock in Mecklenburg-Schwerin. He reached this town in 
a plight not less wretched than that in which he had entered 

Here he met with much kind treatment, especially firom the 
students and professors of the universities, and achieved, as ^' the 
new poet," a certain degree of popularity. 

The morality of non-resistance and the Christian doctrine of 
the forgiveness of injuries never seem to have had a disciple in 
Ulrich von Hutten. As a good hater, he would have satisfied 
Dr. Johnson himself. He hated, not without reason, Wedeg and 
Henning Loz, and set himself to do them all the harm he could, 
with the only weapon he could use, — his pen. Hutten's anger 
did not cloud, but rather cleared his intellect. He wrote best 
when he was in a rage. He has more affinity with Juvenal than 
with Horace. Rabies armavit iambo* Hutten composed two 
books of '' Complaints'^ {Querela in Wedegum Loetz Consulem 
Gripemaldensem, etfilium ejus Henninffum, &c.), which were pub- 
lished at Frankfurt in 1510. That he aimed at something more 
than literary vengeance, is evident from one of the " elegies," in 
which Ludwig von Hutten is exhorted to knock down the elder 
Loz on one of the visits of the latter to Frankfurt, to secure him, 
and hand him over to the poet for punishment : 

" TeinpuB enim notum est, pater hue quoque Lossius ibit : 
Tu preme servatas obsioione vias. 
Ceperis, includes : neque enim confodere cauium ett : 
Dc sump to pcenas ipse Poeta feret." 

Those who think it necessary to come to any judgment on this 
quarrel, should keep in mind Hutten^s fiery temperament, and 
the fact that we have only his statement of the matter. That 
he believed himself to have been, and was, grossly used, there 
can be no doubt; but that he gave no provocation is a point 
on which we can hardly receive his testimony. His attacks had 
no perceptible efiect on their objects, who rose to still higher 
honours and influence in Greifswald. 

The Querela were followed very shortly afterwards by a work 
on the Art of Versification, — a kind of mediaeval Gradus ad 

* **Bei Hutten war das Lachen nicbt das Letzte, sondern der Zorn. 

£r sah in den Missbrauchen, die er verspottete, nicht bios das Thorichte, sondern 
mehr noch das Verderbliche'* (Strauss, i. p. 28). '* Die Hebamme von Uutten*s 
Geiste war der Zorn. Seine Werke steigen an Bedentuni; in dem Verbilltniss, 
als die Gegenstiinde seines Zomes bedeutende werden, dieser selbst reiner wird" 
(Ibid. pp. 67-8). 

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Strauss^s Life of Ulrich von Hutten. 287 

Pamassum, — which became immensely popular, was reprinted at 
yarious seats of learning, and introduced into many schools. 

In the years which had elapsed since Ulrich^s flight from 
Fulda, the old knight of Steckelburg^s feeling of anger had 
gradually abated. He maintained the show of it still, but the 
reality was vanishing. He abused his son himself, in order to 
elicit the counter-praises of others. By the skilful management 
of Crotus Rubianus, whom the younger Ulrich had known in 
his convent days, and since at Cologne, he was induced to ac- 
knowledge in a confidential moment that Ulrich would never 
have made a good monk, and to propose that he should give 
up his nonsensical humanist studies [seine Narrenspossen, die 
bonas literas), and go to Italy as a law-student. '' It would be 
better that he were a quibbler-at-law {ein Rechtsverdreher, rabula 
forensis), who might be of use to his family, than a monk in dis- 
grace with his superiors.^' Next to the proposition that he should 
re-enter his convent, — which was made to him when, with cha- 
racteristic audacity, he applied there for money to aid him in his 
studies, — this of his father's was the most disagreeable of any 
that could be suggested to Hutten. He rejected it, and re- 
sumed his wandering life. In wretched condition, he travelled 
to Olmiitz in Moravia, where he was eflfectually helped, and sent, 
with money in his purse and a horse beneath him, to Vienna. 
He arrived there about the autumn of the year 1511. The one 
feeling which pervaded the mind of the people of (rermany at 
this time, and whiclf almost raised them to a perception of their 
common nationality, was hatred to Venice. This feeling was, for 
obvious reasons, strongest in Vienna, the capital of the hereditaiy 
possessions of the emperor. The complication of European poli- 
tics at this period is difficult to unravel ; but as Hutten^s history 
becomes henceforth entwined with them, a short statement of 
the relations then existing between the Italian and German 
States becomes absolutely necessary. 

On the accession of Louis XII, to the throne of France, one 
of his first acts was to lay claim to the duchy of Milan, as 
grandson of Valentina, daughter of John Oaleazzo Visconti, 
to whose children, by the Duke of Orleans, remainder to the 
duchy, on the failure of male heirs, had been granted. This 
condition had long since arisen; but the throne of Milan had in 
the mean time been seized by the family of the Sforzas, whom, 
after half a century^s possession, Louis now aimed to expel. 
"Venice, ever at strife with that city, gladly favoured his pre- 
tensions ; and the Pope, Alexander VI., in the hope of gaining 
by his means an Italian throne for his son, the notorious Csesar 
Borgia, also sided with him. Louis invaded Italy (a.d. 1500), 
and took possession of Milan. Sforza taking 8000 Swiss mer- 

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288 Strauss' $ Life of Ulrich von Hutten. 

cenaries into his service^ and Training his duchy^ Louis also 
turned to them for aid^ and^ strengthened by a body of 10^000 
of these troops, shnt up Sforza in Novara. The Swiss, however, 
refusing to fight against each other, Sforza's mercenaries were 
permitted to march immolested out of the city. The duke, dis- 
guised as one of the number, quitted the place with them, but 
was sold by a man of Uri, named Turmann, to the French 
monarch, who sent him prisoner to France. Maximilian be- 
held the successes of the French monarch in Italy .... with 
impotent rage, and convoked one diet after another, without 
being able to raise either money or troops. At length, in the 
hope of saving his honour, he invested France with the duchy 
of his brother-in-law Sforza, and by the treaty of Blois (a.d. 
1504) ceded Milan to France for the sum of 200,000 francs. 
The marriage of Charles, Maximilian's son, with Claudia, the 
daughter of Louis, who it was stipulated should bring Milan in 
dowry to the house of Hapsburg, also formed one of the articles 
of this treaty ; and in the event of any impediment to the mar- 
riage being raised by France, Milan was to be unconditionally 
restored to the house of Austria."* This treaty was broken, 
" and Claudia was married to Francis of Anjou, the heir-apparent 
of the throne of France." Dr. Strauss does not take these cir- 
cumstances into account when he represents Maximilian's Italian 
expedition of 1 508 as one of mere ceremony, as a reminiscence 
of the old glories of the empire. " Maxinulian," he says, ''in 
whose lofty but inconstant spirit the old idA of the Roman em- 
pire of the German nation once more flickered up, had deter- 
mined, in conformity with ancient custom [nach alter Sitte), to 
make an armed march to Rome for the purpose of being there 
crowned as Caesar; but the Venetians forbade hiTn passage through 
their territory ."f It is not quite correct to say that the Emperor 
was refused free passage through the Venetian territory; on the 
contrary, this was expressly promised him, together with safe and 
honourable escort to Rome, if only he would leave his army on 
the German side of the Venetian frontier. But Maximilian^s eye 
was fixed on Milan more than on Rome. The Venetians knew 
this; and, as the allies of France, were bound to refuse admit- 
tance to an expedition directed against the possessions of the 
latter power. The Emperor attempted to force his way; but, 
after a few transient successes, was obliged to yield to the superior 
powers of the republican troops ; and a treaty of peace was con- 
cluded in June 1508. Louis XII. did not reciprocate the fidelity 
of the Venetians. He was alarmed by their increasing power ; 
and at his instigation the league of Cambray was formed, in 

• Menzel's History of Germany, Eng. transL, ii. pp. 214-5. 
t Strauss, i. p. 85. 

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Strausffs Life of Ulrich von Hutten. 289 

which the Pope Julius 11.^ Ferdinand of Spain^ and Maximiliaa 
united with hnoa for the dismemberment and annihilation of the 
republic. Nothing, of course, could resist the conjoined forces 
of the confederates. But the jealousy "which they had felt of 
Venice, they soon began to entertain towards each other. The 
Pope attempted to detach Maximilian from the alliance. The 
Venetians supplicated for cessation of hostilities. Matters were 
thus in suspense at the period of Hutten^s arrival in Vienna. 

Under these circumstances, Hutten could have had no better 
letter of introduction to the literary circles of the city than the 
poem which he had composed during the last few days of his 
journey, in exhortation to Maximilian to continue the war against 
the Venetians. It was received with rapture by the friends to 
whom he read it, and published by them after his departure, in 
January 1512. In it he reminds the Emperor of the former 
aggressions and insults of the Venetians, and seeks to inflame 
him at once by the lust of recent successes, and the shame of 
preceding defeats. They desire peace, he urges, only that they 
may prepare themselves for war ; and therefore peace must be 
refused them. Together with patriotic hatred, ^'the ill-will of 
our poor knight against a republic of opulent merchants finds 
expression, — a feeling of which, even as regarded the free towns 
of Germany, he was unable his whole life long entirely to rid 

Appended to this poem was another, animated by the same 
patriotic spirit, in which Hutten aims to prove that the Germans 
have not declined from their ancient fa^ne {Quod ab ilia aniu 
gtdttis Germanorum claritudine nondum degenerarint nostrates, 
Ulr. Hutteni Eq. Heroicum). In it he points out as a " historic 
law,^' that periods of warlike, and of commercial and literary ac- 
tivity, alternate in the life of nations. The Germans of old had 
no writers to record the heroic deeds they did ; but it is not yet 
true that the Germans of to-day can only describe the achieve- 
ments of others, without being able to perform any thing great 

Hutten left Vienna before the publication of these poems. Of 
the details of his residence there, we know nothing more than 
the following amusing passage of the Epistola Obscurorum Viro- 
rum (which Strauss refers to without quoting) tells us. The 
allusion can be to no other than Hutten, whose peculiarities 

• This feeling is curiously apparent in the dialogue PrtBdones, written many 
years later, in which he undertakes to combat it, and advocates a union of the 
equestrian and burgher classes against the princes and the church. 

t " Verstiinden nun die jetzigen Deutsclien nur, fremde Thaten zu beschrei- 
ben, ohne seibst etwas Grosses thun zu kdnneu, so ware das freilich nur die urn- 

fjkehrte Einseitigkeit. So schlimm jedoch stehe es nut ihnen noch lange nicht." 
trauss, i p. 88. ; 

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290 StrauM^s Life of Ulrich von Huiten. 

are good-humooredly depicted^ perhaps with a few heightening 
touches. The humour of the passage is as inseparable irom its 
Latinity as that of " Jeames's Diary'^ from Mr. Thackeray's 
peculiar spelling. M. Joannes Krabacius (one of the obscure) 
is supposed to write thus : 

'^ Semel venit unus socius ex Moravia, quando ego fui Yiennse, qui 
debet esse Poeta, et scripsit etiam metra, et vohiit legere artem metrifi- 
candi, et non fuit intitulatus (he wished to lecture on versification with* 
out having a degree I). Tunc ipse Magister noster Heckman prohibuit 
ei, et ipse fuit ita prsetensus, quod non voluit curare mandatum ejus. 
Tunc Rector prohibuit suppositis, quod non deberent visitare ejus lectio- 
nem (the Rector forbade the students to attend his lecture). Tunc ille 
Ribaldus accessit Rectorem, et dixit ei multa superba dicta et tibisavit 
eum (he said many insolent things to the Rector, and ihmCd him). Tunc 
ipse misit pro famulis civitatis, et voluit eum incarcerare, quia fait mag- 
num scandalum, quod simplex socius deberet tibisare unum Rectorem 
Universitatis, qui est Magister noster ; et cum hoc ego audio, quod ille 
socius nequc est Baccalaureus, neque Magister, nee est aliquo modo quali- 
ficatus seu graduatus, et incessit sicut bellator, vel qui vult ambulare ad 
bellum, et habuit pileum et longum cultrum in latere. Sed per Deos 
ipse fuisset incarceratus, si non habuisset notos in civitate." 

Defeated in his attempts to support himself as a teacher of 
polite literature in Vienna, Hutten surrendered at discretion to 
his father's wishes, and betook himself, in the spring of 1512, 
to Pavia, to be manufactured into a jurist Misfortime, however, 
which was never long off his track, followed him thither. His 
disease broke out in an aggravated form ; and the political and 
military embroilments in which intrigue had involved Italian 
affairs involved him also. In his new-bom zeal for the Vene- 
tians, Julius II. had deposed and excommimicated the Duke of 
Ferrara, who refused to discontinue his hostilities against the 
republic. This excommunication extended to his supporters, 
and therefore included Louis XII. and Maximilian, whom their 
common injury drew into closer tmion against the Pope. The 
necessity of meeting these formidable opponents led to the 
counter-alliance, known as "the Holy League,'* between Ju- 
lius, the Venetians, Ferdinand of Aragon, and Henry VI 11. 
of England. Their great aim was to expel the French from 
Italy, which they ultimately succeeded in doing. At the 
time of which we are now speaking, however, the French were 
still masters of Lombardy, and in possession of Pavia. Their 
victory at Ravenna (April 11, 1512), purchased by the death of 
their gallant young commander, Gaston de Foix, was rather a 
loss to them than a gain. . More had been slain on their side 
than on the enemy's, and their confidence from this time de- 
clined, never to be reestablished. The Pope's, on the other hand. 

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Strauss^s Life of Ulrich von Hutten, 291 

rose^ and his measures became^ if possible^ more vigorous and 
decisive. Maximilian, not heeding Hutten's Exhortation, made 
peace idth the Venetians a few months only after that admoni- 
tory poem was published, and deserted to the papal side. Twenty 
thousand Swiss mercenaries, at the summons of Julius, appeared 
in July 1512 before Pavia. As a subject of the Emperor, Hutten 
was an object of suspicion to the French in the town, " who for 
three entire days kept him prisoner in a narrow chamber. Suf- 
fering at the same time imder fever, he gave himself up for 
lost.^' In this mood of mind he wrote the mournful epitaph which 
Strauss has thus rendered into German, and which, with the 
exception of a single line, might have stood as well at the actual 
dose of his life : 

" Der zum Jammer sezeugt, ein ungluckseliges Leben 

Lebte, von Uebem zu Land, Uebeln zu Wasser verfolgt : 
Hier liegt Hutten's Gtebein. Ihm, der nichts Arges verachuldet, 

Wurde vom Gallischen Schwert grausam das Leben geraubt. 
War Yom Qeschick ihm bestimmt, nur Unglucksjahre zu schauen, 

Ach, dann war es erwiiuscht, dass er so zeitig erlag. 
Er, von Gefahren umringt, wich nicht vom Dienste der Mosen, 

Und so gut er's vermocht, sprach er im Liede sich aus." 

The city was taken within three days. Hutten was robbed and 
ill-treated by the victorious party, who considered his presence 
in Pavia proof of his connection with the French; and with diffi- 
culty ransoming himself, he wandered to Bologna. 

Enlisting is generally the last resource of desperate men in 
our time, and it was Hutten^s. We know nothing of his warlike 
exploits. That he did not abandon the pen on taking the sword, 
his book of Epigrams,* " one of his freshest and most attrac- 
tive works,^' remains to prove, " Written at diflferent times and 
places, the little book follows the changing course of the pro- 
tracted war, and brings before us, in the liveliest picture, vic- 
tory and defeat, hope and fear, the gain and loss of towns and 
countries, the formation and dissolution of alliances/' Despis- 
ing '^ reasons of state,'' Hutten strikes indiscriminately at friend 
and foe, — at the Venetians and the Pope, as well as at the 

Returning from Italy in 1514, and meeting with a cold re- 
ception from his family, who were disappointed that he had no 
degree to show as the result of his studies, he repaired to Mentz, 
where, through the intercession of his early friend Eitelwolf von 
SteiD, he obtained favour in the eyes of the new archbishop, 
Albert Margrave of Brandenburg. Here, too, he formed ac- 
quaintance with Erasmus, for whom he professed boundless re- 

* Ulrichi do Hutten £q. Germani ad Csetarem MaximUianum Epigrammatum 
liber unus. 

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292 Straustfs life of Ulrich wm Hutten. 

verence. The subsequent relations of these two men^ who^ with 
aQ their mutual admiration^ were constitutionally unable to un- 
derstand each other, became those of bitterest antipathy. 

The perpetration of a great crime withdrew Hutten's zeal firom 
matters of state interest, even from the cause of ^^good letters/^ 
to the relentless exposure and punishment of the criminal. Hans 
von Hutten, — ^the son of that Ludwig von Hutten who had be- 
friended Ulrich after his flight frx)m Pulda, — ^had entered the ser- 
vice of the young Ulrich, Duke of Wurtemburg, and gained the 
affection of his prince, who made him his Mibter of the Horse. 
Reasons of state had compelled the Duke to enter into a marri- 
age that was distasteful to him with Sabina, a quarrelsome and 
repulsive virago, sister of the Duke of Bavaria. But he loved 
Ursula, the beautiful daughter of Conrad von Thumb, his here- 
ditary marshal. Hans von Hutten, unfortunately, loved thia 
lady too, and married her. The Duke confided his attachment 
to the young husband. '' He fell at the feet of his Master of 
the Horse, and with outstretched arms, besought him, for God^s 
sake, to allow of his affection for his wife; for he neither could 
nor would forbear.^' The matter became known. The Duke 
felt that he had not only done wrong, but made himself ridicu- 
lous ; and his hatred of Hans von Hutten was of course implac- 
able. He refused to allow Hans or his wife to depart from 
court, which was the natural and easiest way of settling the 
question. He had resolved on another mode of getting rid of his 
rival. Assuming an appearance of friendliness, he invited him 
to be his companion on a ride to Boeblingen. Hans came> 
suspecting nothing, unarmed, except with a small dagger, and 
but poorly mounted. The Duke was well equipped, and in a 
coat of mail. The attendants gradually drew off; and the two 
entered a wood together. Here Hans was set upon and slain ; 
stabbed, it is not impossible, from behind, for of the seven wounds 
from which he perished, five were in the back. '^The Duke added 
insult to murder. He slung a girdle round the dead man^s neck^ 
and fastened it to a dagger, which he thrust up to its hilt in the 
earth. This was to signify the hanging which the dead man had 
merited for his villanies." The Duke of "Wurtemburg never de- 
nied that he had killed Hans von Hutten. He pleaded, now, that 
the deed was done in a moment of passion; now, that it was done 
in fair fight; now, that it was a deliberate and judicial execution; 
and by these conflicting statements confirmed the worst interpre- 
tation that could be put upon it. 

The whole clan of the Huttens met, and united in demand- 
ing vengeance. Ulrich seized his pen, dedicated a funeral poem 
to his cousin^s memory ; and a consolatory letter, modelled after- 
the best classical examples, and full rather of humanist than hu- 

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Strauss' s Life of Ulrich wm Buiten. 298 

man feeling, to the bereaved Ludwig. He reminds him^ '* that it 
was a mortal irhom he had begotten, and asks him whether he 
is now worse off than he was before his son^s birth, when he 
did not grieve;'' and makes mention ''of the examples of Priam 
and Antigonns, Pericles and Xenophon, ^milins Paulus and Q. 
Marcius/^ The religious stand-point of the letter is, as Stranss 
remarks, heathenish. Of course, as Christians, says Ulrich, we 
believe the soul to be immortal; but if it be not, if it be annihi- 
lated in the grave, " death is no evil, since in putting an end to 
sensation, it puts an end to pain/' It is this alternative on 
which the writer dwells. Both the poem and the letter conclude 
with exhortations to vengeance. 

A complication of intrigues ^isued, which it would be use- 
less to unravel. Political and personal considerations swayed the 
even balance of justice, now this way and now that. Ulrich von 
Hutten issued violent invectives against the murderer in the 
classical form of accusatory speeches, prepared as if for delivery 
before the diet. T^e connection of the Duke of Wurtemburg, 
however, with the reigning family of Bavaria and with the Em- 
peror himself, whose niece he had married, insured the virtual 
condonation of his offence. A payment of 10,000 florins to the 
fiither of his victim, and of 2QpO to provide masses for the soul 
of the latter, was adjudged. The flight of Sabina of Bavaria 
from her husband united the Bavarian forces with those of Hut- 
ten; and this sentence was withdrawn for one of outlawry, 
for which, eleven days later, in order to avoid the war that 
seemed imminent, a payment of 27,000 florins was substituted. 
In this sum, satisfaction to the living and masses for the dead, 
and payment of the expenses of the soldiery which Ludwig von 
Hutten had collected, were supposed to be included. 

Hutten's little progress and slight interest in juridical know- 
ledge had mortified the old knight at Steckelberg exceedingly. 
He considered his son, who was neifher priest nor jurist^ but a 
simple scholar, a mere nobody ; an estimate which was the oc- 
casion of Hutten's poem entitled Niemand, the pith of which lies 
in the play upon the term, taken at pleasure, as if it denoted an 
actual person, or as a mere imiversal n^ative. A specimen of 
the jokes will suffice. '^ Nobody is free from errors. Nobody is 
wise in love. Nobody can serve two masters. Nobody is at the 
same time honest and a courtier. Nobody comes to the help of 
groaning Italy, and frees the city of Quirinus from priestly do- 
mination. Nobody ventures to blame the insolence and indolence 
of the clergy, or to censure the Pope,'' &c.* 

This jesting, agreeable though it might be, did not, how- 
ever, fill Hutten's purse ; he closed, therefore, with the offer that 
* Strauss, i. pp. 149, 150. 

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294 Strauss^s Life of Ulrich von Hutten, 

Mras made to him, that he should return to Italy, and renew his 
law-studies in Rome. He set out in the autumn of 1515, with 
letters of introduction &om Erasmus to some of the more emi- 
nent scholars there resident. His impressions of the city are 
preserved in several epigrams which he sent thence to his Mend 
Crotus Rubianua. The venality of Rome (" wo, mit den Heitigen, 
man selber den Gott auch verkauft")', the corruption of the clergy, 
and the aggressions and extortions of the Pope, are denounced 
with indignant eloquence.* 

At this period of Hutten's history, it is necessary to recur to 
the state of Italian politics. 

In 1512, the Pope and the Emperor had succeeded, with the 
aid of the Swiss, in expelling the French from Italy, and had re- 
stored the Sforzas to their ducal throne of Milan. Hereupon the 
Venetians deserted their old alliance, and formed with the French, 
in the March of the following year, the offensive and defensive 
treaty of Blois. The feeling in Italy towards that republic was 
much the same as that which the autocratic neighbours of Bel- 
gium and Piedmont may be supposed to entertain towards those 
constitutional monarchies. The league for its dismemberment 
was not forgotten. Its safety, even its existence, depended on 
the preservation of the balance of power in the Peninsula. It 
was therefore its policy to throw its weight into the scale of the 
weaker of the contending powers, provided that power were not 
too weak. The treaty of Blois was met a month later by the 
counter-treaty of Mechlin — ^the parties to which were the new 
Pope (Leo X.), Maximilian, Ferdinand of Aragon, and our own 
Henry VIII. The early successes of the invading forces of the 
French and Viennese, under Latremouille and D'Alviano were 
more than neutralised by the defeat of the former at Novara, in 
June 1513. About the same time, Henry and Maximilian had 
entered the French territory, and possessed themselves of Terou- 
cnne and Toumay. The se(ond expulsion of the French from 
Italy followed on this double reverse; and their designs on Milan 
remained in abeyance until the accession of Francis I., who in 
1515 invaded ItaJy anew. By the treachery of the Swiss Con- 
federation, and the active aid oT the Venetians, he gained the 
battle of Marignano, against the obstinate resistance of those of 
the Helvetic mercenaries who remained faithful to their engage- 

* '* Sie handbaben Vcrbot und Erlaubniss, schliessen und offhen, 
Und wie es ihnen bcliebt, tbeilen den Himmel sie au3. 

Romerinnen und Romer nicht mehr; voU Ueppigkeit alles, 
AUes, wohin du auch blickat, voll der verworfensten Lust, 

Und das Alles in Rom, wo Curius einst und Metellns 
Und Pompejus gelebt: O der veriinderten Zeit! 

Dram den Verlangen entoage, mein Freund, nach der heiligen Romaf 

Romisohes, welches dn suchst, findest in Rom da nIcht mehr." 

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Strauss' 8 Life of Ulrich von Hutten. 293 

ments. This was on the isth and 14th of September, " a few 
weeks before Hutten entered on his second journey to Italy/' 
Maximilian had rqected the alliance to which Francis I., pre- 
vious to the Italian expedition, had invited him, and was now 
arming against the French. Under these circumstances, Hutten 
addre^ed to the Pope his Prognostic for the year .1516,* in which 
he predicts not only ^' war, but destruction to Italy, on astrolo- 
gical as well as political grounds." Early in 1516 Maximilian's 
preparations were complete ; and he entered Italy at the head of 
30,000 men, of whom 15,000 were Swiss mercenaries. With- 
out encountering any formidable resistance, he made his way to 
Milan. Here, however, distrusting the fidelity of his Swiss, he 
shrank from an assault, and, plundering as he went, made his 
way back to his own dominions, rivalling the achievement of the 
mythical French monarch who " marched up the hiB, and then 
marched down again/' 

'* There," says Strauss, *' the ridicule of the Italians was a matter 
of indifference to him. They mocked him in the theatres ; caricatures 
and pasquinades appeared against him. He was painted riding on a 
crab, with the inscription, Tendimvs in Latium. Men kindled torches 
in bright daylight, and set themselves to look for the Emperor. The 
French in Italy especially gave full scope to their insolence on the oc- 
casion of their young king's success in war. Hutten devoted several 
epigrams to this state of things, which he sent, as it appears, to Eoban 
Hesse, who, towards the end of the year It) 16, caused them to be 
printed as supplements to two poems, which I shall afterwards refer 
to. Subsequently Hutten incorporated most of them in his book of 
Epigrams addressed to the Emperor. 

Nevertheless, the French bravado on the one side, and Hutten's 
German heart and hot blood on the other, could not but cause a 
real scene when the first collision of any importance came. One day 
Hutten rode out with an acquaintance towards Yiterbo, just as an en- 
voy from the king of the French to the Pope was journeying through 
the placet Five Frenchmen, probably part of the suite of the envoy, 
made themselves merry on the subject of Maximilian, who was still 
fightmg in the neighbourhood of Milan. Hutten took up the cause of 
his emperor. The matter proceeded from words to deeds. The five 
fell upon their solitary opponent, whom his travelling companion left 
Id the lurch. Hutten now drew his sword, struck down his nearest 
adversary, and himself, wounded only in his left cheek, put the remain- 
ing four to flight. Not unjustly did he account this a brave deed, 
celebrate it in six epigrams, boast of it to the Emperor in the third of 
his speeches against the Duke of Wurtemburg, and narrate it to his 
friends after his return to Germany, whither the fame of it, through 

* Ad Leonem X P.M. Carmen in prognosticon ad annum 1516. 

t After the battle of Marignano, Leo had entered into an alliance with 
IFrancis, who, however, suspected him of secretly faYouring Maximilian's abor- 
tive attempt on Milan. 

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296 Strau$8^8 life of Ubrich von HiUten. 

hifl letters and epigrams^ had already preceded him. For the more 
Hutten gave himaelf up to studj, the more yalue did he set upon 
his being of some account too as a knight and warrior. For this rea« 
son, later in life, none of his portraits was dearer to him than that 
which represented him in arms.'' (vol. i. pp. 164-6.) 

The consequences of this adventure led Hutten to remore 
himself to Bologna^ where he conscientiously devoted himself to 
his law-studies^ not neglecting, however, more congenial pursuits. 
He perfected himself in Greek, and made acquaintance with 
Lucian and Aristophanes, from the former of whom he adopted 
that dialogue form, into which henceforth his principal writings 
were cast. He has been called the German Lucian ; but he is 
too much in earnest to deserve the name, which, with the requi- 
site change of nationality, would better suit Erasmus. There 
is none of the cool polished raillery of his prototype about the 
German knight; his satire is animated not by tolerant contempt, 
but by intolerant hate, and is always running into the fiercest 
invectives. The dialogue Phalarismua was his first effort in this 
direction. In it, Duke Ulrich of Wurtemburg is led down, yet 
living, to the infernal regions, by Mercury, to take council of 
Phalaris in villany, and is proudly introduced by him to all the 
tyrants of history, ''from Astyages and Cambyses to Domitian,'* 
as their worthy successor. In the midst of his engagements at 
Bologna, Hutten found leisure also for the composition of his 
poems De Venetum piscatura fyc. and Marctis, in which the origin 
and character of the Venetians are ridiculed ; and the Epistle of 
Italy to the Emperor, in substance a repetition of the exhortation 
to Maximilian, which we have before mentioned. 

An outbreak between the students of the different ''nations^' 
at Bologna, in which Hutten of course took an active part, made 
it desirable that he should not be found in that city, for a season 
at least He paid brief visits to Ferrara and Venice; meeting 
with a magnanimous reception in the latter place. His claims 
as a citizen of the republic of letters outweighed, at least in the 
literary circles to which he was introduced, his political hostility. 
Declining there the invitation of some of his kinsmen to accom- 
pany them on a tour in the East, he returned to Bologna, and 
two or three days after his arrival set his face homewards to 

During his second residence in Italy, in the autumn of 1516, 
Hutten received at Bologna the first volume of the celebrated 
EpistoUe Obscurorum Virorum, It is necessary to go back some 
years in order to recount the origin of this work; ''a satire 
which,'' says Sir William Hamilton, '' though European in its 
influence, has yet, as Herder justiy observes, ' effected for Ger- 
many incomparably more than Hudibras for England, or Gkunu 

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Strttun'sLifeofUlrichvonHuiten. 297 

gantaa for France^ or the Eniglit of La Mancha for Spain/ It 
gave the victory to Beuchlin over the Begging Friars^ and to 
liuther over the Court of Borne/' In the controversy which pro- 
duced this work^ Hutten took the liveliest interest, and bore no 
inactive part. For the sake of clearness we have deferred speak- 
ing of the events of it in their proper chronological place^ and 
reserved them for connected narration here. That he was one 
of the authors, at least of the second portion of the satire, seems 
established on good critical grounds. 

John Beuchlin, in whose defence the Letters of Obscure Men 
were written, was the son of a servant of the Dominican Order 
at Pforzheim, where he was bom in the year 1455. The liberal 
patronage of the Margrave of Baden sent him to Paris in 1473. 
Here, under the instruction of Wessel and Hieronymus, he laid 
the foundations of his subsequent knowledge of the Greek and 
Hebrew tongues, which he afterwards taught and still further 
cultivated at Basel, at Tubingen, at Heidelberg, at Wurtembui^, 
and in frequent journeys to Italy. His life, however, was not 
that of the mere i^udent; this character, in its developed and 
typical form, is the product of later times. He held high public 
offices under Eberhard of Wurtemburg, — Eberhard with the 
Beard {Eberhard im Bart). Forced to fly from the anger of 
this princess successor, he took refuge with the Elector Philip at 
Heidelberg, and cooperated in his exertions, and those of his 
chancellor, John of Dalberg, to quicken and extend the literary 
revival which had abready begun to spread from Italy to Ger- 
many. On the deposition of his enemy, and the accession of the 
young Ihike Uhrich (afterwards the murderer of Hans von Hut- 
ten), he returned to Stuttgart. He held the office of Judge 
of the Swabian League {Richteramt des Schwabischen Bundes), 
Such time, however, as was free from official claims, he spent 
^' on his own small country estate,'' — ^the court of Wurtemburg, 
«mder its present ruler, offered little that was congenial to him, 
— ^and, in the society of an invalid wife, applied himself to the 
task of ^'rearing white peacocks,'' and to his literary pursuits.* 

None gave more powerful aid than Beuchlin to the promotion 
of classical studies in the Universities of Germany. In this re- 
spect, however, Erasmus may perhaps stand on the same level as 
he. It is as the restorer of Hebrew learning that Beuchlin's 
supremacy is most clear. It was on this that he most plumed 
himself. No attack seems to have wounded him so much as the 
imputation which was thrown out in the controversy of which we 
are about to speak, that he was not the author of his own Hebrew 
grammar. ''Others," he allows, ''may indeed have laid down 
single rules before him, but none has written a systematic bode 

* StnMM, i 194. 

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298 Strauss[s L{fe of Ulrich von Hutten. 

on the entire Hebrew tongue ; and though my accuser (he cries) 
should break his heart through envy, still I am the first/'* 
'^ ReuchUn^s interest in this tongue was, however, not merely 
philological, nor yet merely theological, as a key to the better 
understanding of the Scriptures, but at the same time mystical 
in the fancied secrets of the Cabala. In the three letters of 
the Hebrew word with which (Gen. i. 1) the divine creation is 
indicated {das gottliche Schaffen bezeichnet ist), he foimd the 
doctrine of the Trinity; and according to the same mode of 
thinking, in Proverbs xxx. 31, a prediction (which, indeed, was 
not fulfilled) that Frederick of Saxony would succeed Maximilian 

as emperor.^'t ' 

This mystical tendency, which in part was due to the natural 
temperament of the man, was in part also the product of the 
age in which he lived. When confidence in external authorities 
begins to decline, refuge is sought in the fancy of supernatural 
illumination, and the belief in secondary and allegorical mean- 
ings, latent in sacred texts, but to be discerned oidy by a vision 
divinely purged. From the time of Origen to'that of Mirandola, 
from Philo to Swedenborg, the illusion has been, a favourite 
one with superior minds. Under its influence Reuchlin made 
himself master of the later, more especially the Cabalistic, litera- 
ture of the Jews ; and as he advanced in years devoted himself 
more and more sedulously to these studies. The knowledge he 
thus gained, as useless, one would imagine, as any that can fill a 
human mind, he was able to turn to account, though with great 
hazard to himself, in the interests of toleration and freedom. 

In 1509, John PfeflTerkom, a converted— or, to speak more 
correctly, a baptised — Jew of the worst possible character^ 
obtained from Maximilian a commission enjoining the Jews 
throughout the empire to produce their books for examination, 
in order that such of them as contained blasphemies against 
Christianity might be condemned and publicly burnt. Pfefier- 
kom had paved his way to this result by a series of libels against 
the faith he had quitted. With the mandate in his hand^ he 
repaired to Reuchlin, whose attainments in Hebrew literature he 
thought might be of use to him, — whose name, rather, might 
shelter him, — in the investigations he was about to institute. 
Beuchlin, however, did him the disservice of pointing out cer^ 
tain flaws which invalidated its authority. He was afterwards 
required, together with Jacob Hochstraten, prior of the Domi- 

* Strauss, i. p. 200. 

t Ibid, i p. 192. For theolog^ical purposes, if such could be iuTolTcd here, 
there was a sufficiently near approach, though Dr. Strauss neglects to remark it» 
to the fulfilment of the prophecy, rrederick was appointed regent of the empire 
on Maximilian's death. The imperial crown was offered to him by the electoral 
princes; but he Justified his own name of ** the Wise** by declining it. 

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Strauss^ 8 Life of Ulrich von Hutten. 299 

iiicans^ and chief inquisitor at Cologne, Victor von Carben, a 
converted rabbi, and several of the German Universities, to give 
his opinion on the question, whether the Jews ought not to be 
deprived of all their Hebrew books excepting the Old Testament, 
and the former destroyed as heretical Such a catastrophe would 
have been bs painful and sliocking to him as to the veriest 
'^ Hebrew of the Hebrews/' He returned an answer condemning 
strongly the course proposed. 

On this a great outcry arose. He was charged with judaising ; 
and much ink was shed in accusatory and apologetic pamphlets. 
The Dominicans, whose tool Pfefferkom had been all along, came 
forward now as Reuchlin's open opponents. For a time, the 
peace-loving old man, who sought nothing better than to be left 
alone with his sick wife, his white peacocks, and his books, tried 
to conciliate his opponents. He temporised and qualified, avow- 
ing his submission to the Church, and pleading the necessity 
under which he had given the judgment which was made a re- 
proach to him. But, as Strauss remarks, — with the air of a man 
who l^nows, — ''it is never prudent to make even apparent conces- 
sions to the clergy ; they immediately think they have put their 
adversary in fear, and redouble their shamelessness.'' Reuchlin, 
at any rate, found it so ; and having nothing to hope from their 
mildness, boldly dared their resentment. In reply to the ArticuU 
sive propositiones de judaico favore nimis stispecta ex libello teu" 
ionico Joannis Reuchlin, which articles were in number forty- 
three, he published his Defensio Jo. Reuchlin, Phorcensis, LL, 
Doctoris, contra calumniatores suos Colonienses. In this work, 
if he proves himself superior to his adversaries in argument, he 
Bhows that he is by no means their inferior in the art of abuse.* 
The rage of the Dominicans knew no bounds. Hochstraten, 
their chief, caused Beuchlin's writings to be condemned at 
Mentz and publicly burnt. Reuchlin appealed to the Pope, 
Leo X., whose love of letters was superior to his dread of heresy. 
He referred the matter to the Count Palatine, George bishop of 
Spires, who gave judgment on the 24th of April 1514, acquitting 
Reuchlin of heresy, and condemning his persecutor to the pay- 
ment of costs (111 Rhine florins) and to silence. He was fur- 
ther ordered, under pain of excommunication, to b6 reconciled to 
Reuchlin within thirty days. 

This, of course, was a sentence '' most tolerable and not to 
be endured.^' Hochstraten, in his turn, appealed to the Pope, 
who appointed a commission of eighteen bishops to decide the 

* " Doeh nioht bios an Grunden, sondem auoh an Schimpfreden woUte Betichw 
lin seinern Qegnera nioht schuldig bleiben" (I 208). * Poisonous beast,' * monster/ 
*pi{^/ *fox,' *male,' * mad dog,' &e., were among the flowers of speech which he 
laTuihed on his opponents. 

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300 Straws 8 Life of Uhich von Hviten. 

matter. The usual means for obtaining a verdict at the Papal 
court were resorted to by the Dominicans^ — gold flowed fireelT, 
— ^but without the usual result. On the 2d of July 1516, the 
case was determined in ReucUin's favour. But Leo, much as he 
hated the monks, feared them also. Satisfied witii protecting 
Beuchlin, he did not care to give him an open victory. He 
forbade the promulgation of the judgment, and quashed the 
proceedings by a mandate de supersedtndo. 

During tlus protracted struggle, Hutten, as his letters bear 
witness, had felt the liveliest sympathy with the persecuted 
scholar. His influence was not great among cardinals; but he 
strove to use such as he had, or fancied he had, with Cardinal 
Hadrian (afterwards the Pope of the same name), and dedicated 
an intercessory poem to him. More congenial, doubtless, was 
his diatribe against Pfefferkom {In sceleratissimam Jo, Peperi- 
cami vitam Ulrichi ab Hutten Eq, exclamatio), in whidi he 
ingeniously confounds the promoter of the Beuchlinian process 
with a namesake as bad as himself, and loads his head with the 
sins of both. It is the same in the controversy of letters as in 
that of arms ; the laws of honourable war£Qre are a comparatively 
late invention. At first, the combatants recognise no restriction 
to their right of doing each other as much harm as possible ; the 
Homeric heroes have no idea oifair fighting. Dr. Strauss com- 
pares Hutten (as we have seen) to Philoctetes. The comparison 
holds in so far as he did not object to use poisoned arrows. The 
fisiult, however, is rather that of his time than of himsell 

In 1514, while the issue of the contest was still in suspense, 
Hutten submitted to Erasmus a poem prematurely entitl^ The 
Triumph of Capnio^ {Triumphtuf Capmonis), which, at the lat- 
ter^s advice, was suppressed until the triumph thus celebrated 
had been actually achieved. That Hutten had some share in 
the composition of the poem, which was not published till 1519, 
both internal and external evidence unite to prove. An expres- 
sion of Erasmus's, who elsewhere unequivocally attributes it to 
him, makes it doubtful whether he were the sole author. The 
title of the poem indicates, what titles do not always do, its con- 
tents. Reuchlin is pictured returning to his native town after 
the fashion of a Roman conqueror, — victor over the malice and 
ignorance of his enemies, and leading the principal of them, 
Hochstraten, Pfeflerkom, and others, who are very uncompli- 
mentarily described, in chains behind him. 

In the same year in which this work was first shown to 
Erasmus, there appeared another, destined to have, though in- 
directly, a great influence on the result of the straggle. The 

* So Beucfalin's name wu Gneciied in the fuhion of the age. Mamek'^ 

ic«rr^s» smoke. 

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Strauss' s life of Ubich von Huiten. 801 

TarioBB faculties of theology in Germany^ and e^en the Sorbonne 
at Paris, had followed the lead of the Cologners in condemning 
Benchlin ; bat the sympathies of the cultivators of the new learn- 
ing throughout Europe were altc^ther on his side, and were 
freely expressed to him in their letters. Not to lose whatsoever 
weight might attach to these '^ testimonials^^ of his most distin- 
guished contemporaries, a selection from them was published, in 
1514, under the title oiEpistolm Illustrium Virorum ad Bench- 
Knum, virum nostra atate doctissimum {'' Letters of Eminent 
Men to Beuchlin, the most learned man of our time^^). 

It was to Crotus Rubianus, Hutten^s early friend at Fulda 
and at Cologne, that the happy idea occurred of parodying this 
correspondence in a series of fictitious letters, purporting to be 
addressed to Qrtuinus Gratus, one of the most active of Beuch- 
lin's adversaries, in which obscurity, stupidity, and pedantic ig- 
norance should be shown as the supporters of the Dominicans, 
just as the Letters of Illustrious Men had exhibited the opposite 
qualities enlisted in behalf of Reuchlin. The evidence of this 
assertion rests on an anonymous letter to Crotus, written after 
his return to the Catholic Church. 

" The letter-writer," says Strauss, " speaks as one who belonged to 
what was at that time Crotus's circle. He reminds him of their con- 
fidential conversations, their walks and meals together, in which Crotus 
had with him his work then in progress, and out of which he read pass- 
ages. In churches and lecture-rooms, he carried with him writing- 
tablets, in order to note down such discourse as seemed to admit of 
being elaborated for his work. In this way he had not a little bene- 
fited himself ; and the letter-writer tells the apostate to his face, that 
in secret he still loves his book as tenderly as an ape loves its young, 
and would rather that Homer*s Ilicui should perish, than Crotus^s plea- 
sant jests and inunortal laughter at the expense of the Papists.'* (vol. i. 
p. 258,) 

The evidence of Hutten^s share in the book, so far at least 
as the second part of it is concerned, rests upon his own asser- 
tion,* and upon many expressions directly indicating him in the 
writings of his friends, as of Erasmus, Pirckheimer, &c. His 
participation in the first volume of the Epistles is more difficult 
to be ascertained. His letter from Bologna, on receiving it, to our 
countryman Richard Croke, who then taught Greek at Leipzig, 
has been thought to negative the supposition of his cooperation: 
** I have received the Obscure Men. Good gods ! what generous 
mirth {qtiam non illiberales jocos) I But the sophists not only 

* ■*Hiitteniu ad Entmnm, Bamber^se, 21 Jnlii 1517. . . . Yele, et tnum Hat- 
ttmuDB amare ne desine, mmpflUBtur ut ilia oAscitru vtrtt, qui jam, qua nos excom- 
miinicamiir, ingentem eircumfernnt builam (referring to the papal brief against 
the EpUtolas O.V.) . . ." (Strauss, I p. SSS.) 

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302 Strausg's Life of Ulrich von Huiten. 

suspect me to be the author^ but^ as I hear^ openly prodaim 
that I am so. Take np the cause of your absent Mend against 
them, and let me not be polluted with this defilement. Write 
to me at length on the matter^ and inform me what their design 
is/'* This passage might seem to be conclusive, but there is rea- 
son to think it one of those politic evasions or reservations (to use 
unoflTensive words), which the morality of authorship has not yet 
discarded. Hutten had enemies enough, without making more. 
And if his temperament was not of a kind likely to be impressed 
by cautious personal considerations such as this, it yet was unde- 
sirable that his name should be too prominently brought forward 
as a partisan of Reuchlin^s. Reuchlin was a servant of Ulrich of 
Wurtemburg, whom Hutten had not yet ceased to attack; and 
who, in his turn, had twice, at Borne and at Bologna, organised 
attempts on Hutten's life, — so, at least, it was suspected. It 
was considered inexpedient that Hutten should even write to 
Keuchlin. Sir William Hamilton, on internal evidence, unhesi- 
tatingly ascribes the 5th and 35th letters of the first volume to 
Hutten. He finds there many of the knight^s habitual expres- 
sions, and with characteristic emphasis '^ defies any one to dis- 
cover an equal number of equally signal coincidences (plagiar- 
ism apart) from the works of any two authors, allowing him to 
compare as many volumes as, in the present case, we have col- 
lated paragraphs." The following sentence is perhaps hardly 
an instance of cautious induction : " Huttcn's cooperation in 
the first volume is thus evinced ; and his cooperation there, to 
any extent, is proved by establishing his cooperation at all.'^t 
Strauss is much less positive, and declines dogmatically to as- 
sign their several parts to each of the joint-authors of the work. 
Strauss^s minute acquaintance with the literature of his sub- 
ject makes the absence of all allusion to Sir W. Hamilton's essay 
somewhat remarkable. "It was translated," says the author^ 
''into German, by Dr. Vogler in the Altes und Neues of 1832, 
after being largely extracted in various other literary journals of 
the empire. I am aware of no attempt to gainsay the proof of au- 
thorship here detailed, or, in general, the justice of the criticism." 
Sir W. Hamilton vindicates the exclusive authorship of both 
volumes of the Epistles to Crotus, Hutten, and Hermann von 
Busche, with whom here we have nothing to do. Strauss, with- 
out venturing to determine any thing, mentions him, with several 
others, as a possible contributor to the work. In such a contro- 
versy we do not claim to have any voice ; but it must be clear to 
the least initiated reader of their several essays, however much 

* Milnch, Epist Oba. Yir., Einleitung, ii. p. 43 et sqq,, where the question is 
discussed at length. 

t Discussions^ p. 226. The italics are our own. 

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Strauss's Life of Ulrich von Hutten. 303 

it may astonish him^ that in moderation, not to say modesty^ — 
in cautious regard to indisputable facts^ — in the absence of vio* 
lently-strained probabilities and sweeping conjectures, — ^the he- 
retical author of the Leben Jem stands in advantageous contrast 
to the strictly '^ sound" and orthodox Scotch critic* 

To the work we have before mentioned, entitled Articles or 
Propositiojis suspected of a Jemsh leaning, from the German book 
of John Reuchlin, which Arnold of Tungern, Dean of the Theo- 
logical Faculty at Cologne, had drawn up and published in 1512, 
a Latin poem, in the same interest, by Ortuin von Graes, who 
taught polite letters in the high school of Cologne, had been 
prefixed. It is to this Ortuinus Gratus, — Portuinus Grsecus, as 
Erasmus names him, in what (stretching a poiut) we may call 
the false wit of the age, — that the letters of the obscm*e men are 
addressed. Why he, who was not certainly the prime mover in" 
the Reuchlinian persecution, was thus selected for preeminence 
in the literary pillory set up for his party can only be conjectured. 
He was less powerful, Strauss thinks, than Hochstraten or Tun- 
gem, less contemptible than Pfefierkorn ; but the way in which 
Hochstraten and Tungern are treated in the epistles shows that 
their assailants were little influenced by fear of them. It seems 
likely that Ortuin was selected as the most vulnerable of his co- 
adjutors by the weapons to be employed against them. As a 
man not without some tincture of letters, he would better appre- 
ciate the barbarisms of style, the dense ignorance and stupidity^ 
and the pedantic folly which his imaginary correspondents are 
made to exhibit, and to which he is held up as a party. Further, 
as Strauss suggests, the incongruity of his claims to be considered 
a humanist and bel esprit with his defence of the old scholasticism 
rendered him a fit subject for comedy, while his apostasy from 
the new cause earned him hatred as a traitor. 

With questions and discussions in casuistry, in literature, and 
philology, the epistles contain recurring references to the cause 
of ReucUin, then pending. The writers relate their journeys 
and their encounters with different members of the humanist 
party on the roads and at inns ; they betray every variety of 
folly, and get into every kind of scrape ; they are beaten and 
kicked to an extent equalled only by " low-comedy'^ men on the 
stage ; they make free confessions of their love-adventures. Con- 
sidering their fictitious character, this is at worst a fault of taste. 
But their confidences are poured into the ear of Ortuinus, who 
was a living man, and in a way which implies the liveliest sym- 

* The following sentence, from Sir W. Hamilton's notice of Heyne in the new 
edition of the Enofchpctdia Britannica, will be thought to justifythese epithets: 
" The researches of Eichhom, Bauer, Ilgen, Hartmann, Yater, De Wette, and a host 
of other philosophical ditrines, have been pursued with a learning and acnteness 
4^qualled only by the impious audacity of their conclusions" (yoL xi. p. 366). 

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804 8irau$i'9 lAfe of Ulrich wn HMen. 

pathy on his part. Indeed,, little is left to implication ; familiar 
allnsions to his excesses abound. Nor do Hochstraten^ Pfeffer- 
kom, and Pfefferkom's wife^ escape more easily. No one can 
read the letters without feeling constantly the truth of Sir W. 
Hamilton's remark^ that^ ^^ morally considered^ the satire is an 
atrocious libd^ which can only be palliated on llie plea of retalia- 
tion^ necessity, the importance of the end, and the consuetude of 
the times. Its victims are treated like yermin, hunted without 
law, and exterminated without mercy. What truth,'' he adds, 
'^ there may be in the wicked scandal it retails, we are now unable 
to determine.'* 

The questions and cases of conscience which Ortuinus's corre- 
spondents propose to him present the usual caricatures of scholas- 
tic quibbling and casuistic scruples. It is solemnly discussed, for 
example, with many aiguments pro and con, whether a man who 
is a graduate can properly be said to be a member (membrum) of 
ten universities, — since though one body may have many mem- 
bers, one member cannot belong to many bodies : — ^whether if a 
man on a Friday unconsciously eats an e^, in which the inci- 
pient chicken is already discernible, he is guilty of breaking his 
fast, any more than if he had eaten a worm in fruit. In the latter 
case it is objected that the instances are not parallel, since the 
worm is a kind of fish. Off their own ground of scholasticism 
and casuistry, their mistakes are yet more ludicrous. '' They con- 
found the grammarian Diomedes with the Homeric hero. They 
complain that Reuchlin (whose name in Hebrew is Capnio), and 
another person called Proverbia Erasmi, wish to introduce a new 
kind of Latin into theology." They eulogise the good old kind 
of poetry, in opposition to that new-fashioned style which Vii^ 
and Pliny, and other recent authors, have brought into vogue. 
Master Philip Schlauraff (in whose itinerary poem Strauss traces 
Hutten's hand) writes in rhyme, without attending to quanti- 
ties, and thinks it sounds better so.* "What do I care for 
feet*' {Quid ego euro pedes?), says Master William Storch to his 
critics ; " I am a theological not a secular poet, and have regard 
to the sense, and not to the trifles you care for." The passage 
quoted a few pages back will give some idea of the prose of this 
work. The following poem of Master Jodocus Sartoris may 
serve as a specimen of its verse. It possesses unusual merits. 

* '^Etiam sciatis quiB composui rhythmice, non attendensqaantitates; yidetnr 
mihi quod sonat melius sic." Epist. O, V., Miinch ed. ii. 9. The poem begins: 

'' Christe Deus omnipotens, in qnem sperat omne Ena, 
Qui est Deus Deonim, per omnia secula aeculomm: 
Tn velis mihi esse propitius, qnando tribulet me inimiens. 
Mitte unum diabolum, qui ducat ad patibnlum 
Poetas et Juristas, qui dedenmt mihi yezas," &c 

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StrauBi^s lAfe of Ulrich vm Hutien. 305 

It is capable^ as the author proudly alleges^ of being scanned,^ 
though hardly in conformity with any known metre : 

** Afltripotentis Dei mater yenerabilis Christi, 

Da precibuB famuli aures benignas tui ! 
Qui te orat, Maria, pro sancta Tneolo^, 

Contra quam scribit Reuohlin, Jurista maluB : 
IJTon darificatus, nee desuper illuminatuBy 

Qualiter esse debet, qui vult placere tibL 
Eigo tuum natum memento habere rogatum, 

Ut subvenire velit huio facultati suas." 

That the ignorance and stupidity attributed to the rabble of 
the anti-ReuchUnist party is not exaggerated^ one or two wdl* 
known facts prove. In England the Dominican and Franciscan 
firiars received the epistles with enthusiasm^ imagining them to 
be genuine productions in the interest of the monkish party {in 
Reuchlini contumeliam et monachorum favorem serio proditas). 
" In Brabant^ a prior of the Dominicans^ and doctor of theology 
(Magister Noster)^ wishing to get himself a name among the 
fathers^ bought a pile of these books with a view of presenting 
them to the chiefs of the order ; nothing doubting but that they 
had been written in its honour/'t 

The immediate effect of the satire was to discomfit friends as 
well as foes. Beuchlin himself was rather alarmed at the vigour 
with which his cause was espoused,' and seems to have thought 
that it would provoke a reaction unfavourable to the quiet in 
which he hoped to spend his declining years. Erasmus, in con- 
formity with his own saying, in which the essence of his tem- 
porising character is expressed, that ^' the most disadvantageous 
peace is preferable to the justest war,^^ was annoyed by so un- 
compromising a declaration of hostilities. He thought the tone 
and temper of the letters likely to injure the cause of humanism. 
He was vexed at the introduction of his own name, though this 
was done with qualification, as a contemner of the scholastic and 
monkish party. He feared this might involve him in the con- 
troversy and the troubles which he dreaded would spring from it. 
He hated tumult and disturbance of any kind. It gave him no 
pleasure (in contradiction to the well-known lines of Lucretius) 
to view the raging sea of human passions from a safe and dear 
height ; but he would rather so view it than be tossed upon it. 
Dryden's noble description of Lord Shaftesbury, — 

^* A daring pilot in adversity. 
Pleased with the danger, when the waves roUed high 
He sought the storm, ' — 

"^ "Et est elegiacam, et Boanditar, sicut primnm metnim in Boetio, indpiens: 
Carmina, quiB quondam studio, &c." Epist. O. K., Miinch ed. it 11, p. IBS. 

t These statements rest on the authority of Erasmus. See the passages in 
Hamilton, p. 218. 

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306 Strauss's Life of Ulrich von Hutten. 

has no applicability to him. On the contrary, fortiter occupa 
portuvi was the principle to which he adhered through life. From, 
this time we may date his estrangement from the more strenuous 
reformers, and his increasing tendency to accommodate matters 
with the Church of Rome. 

On the other side, the epistles called forth a reply, which 
was the most unequivocal acknowledgment that their shafts had 
pierced home. In March 1517, a papal brief appeared forbidd- 
ing, under penalty of excommunication, the sale of the work, and 
ordering all possessors of it to give up their copies to be burnt. 
Nor must we omit to mention, that Ortuin von Graes came gal- 
lantly forward in a book in which he retorted the title of their 
work upon his opponents,"*^ who sheltered themselves under the 
obscurity of the anonymous. If he falls short of the wit of his 
adversaries, he rivals them in his imputations on character. It 
is, perhaps, a sense of his insuflSciency for the conflict that leads 
him to sigh for the more summary methods employed with he- 
retics of old, and to demand the intervention of the secular arm. 
The influence of the satire upon the cause of the Reformation 
has been made the subject of very different estimates. We have 
already quoted the opinions of Herder and Sir William Hamil- 
ton. With some reference perhaps to the overstrained language 
of the former, Mr. Hallam remarks, that '^in the mighty move- 
ment of the Reformation the Epistola Obscurorum Virorum had 
about as much effect as the Mariage de Figaro in the French 
Revolution.^' It is impossible from this short sentence to judge 
of the grounds on which the assertion contained in it rests. We 
will only say, that the popularity of the epistles determined the 
triumph of the struggling literary rerival, which an effort was 
made in the person of Reuchlin to crush ; and that with this 
literary revival, with the diffusion of intellectual culture, the 
cause of religious reform was inseparably bound up. The satire 
also was the first serious blow to the prestige of the Church of 
Rome, by turning public opinion against a cause to which the 
Church had at that time virtually committed itself. The Refor- 
mation, again, using that term in its narrowest sense to denote 
merely the outbreak under Luther, began simply as a protest 
tigainst ecclesiastical corruption and immorality. The appearance 
of the first volume of the letters, with their exposure of priestly 
depravity, in the very year in which LuthePs attention was 
drawn to the preaching of Tetzel and the sale of indulgences, 
cannot but have prepared men's minds for the denunciations and 
efforts of the reformer. Again, by disembarrassing the humanist 
and anti-Romanist party of timid coadjutors such as Erasmus, 
who were not prepared to '^go so far,'' those who remained faith- 
* Zamaitationes Obacurorum Virontm turn prohibita j:er sedem apa$toiicam. 

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Slrauss's Life of Ulrich von Huiien. 807 

ful were left free for less fettered action. The Epistolm Obscu^ 
rorum Virorum contributed not a little to render compromise 
with Borne impossible^ and thus to help on ^'the mighty move* 
ment of the Reformation/' For these and other reasons^ Mr. 
Hallam seems to us to err as much in depreciation^ as Herder 
and Hamilton in exaggeration^ of the effects of the satire. 

Nor is his literary estimate of it more favourable or more 
just *' Few books/' he says, " have been more eagerly received 
than these epistles at their first appearance in 1516, which surely 
proceeded rather from their suitableness to the time than from 
much intrinsic merit; though it must be presumed that the spirit 
of many temporary allusions, which delighted or offended that 
age, is now lost in a mass of vapid nonsense and bad grammar 
which the imaginary writers pour out/' This is surely an ex- 
traordinary criticism. The wit lies in the vapid nonsense and 
bad grammar of the ignorant pedants and simpletons who pour 
it forth. The same objection might be made to the humour of 
Dogberry, and Slender, and Holofemes; in one word, to Shake* 
speare's fools and those of all great writers. Their folly is their 
author's wit. On the subject of the style of the letters, including 
their '''bad grammar," Strauss has some excellent remarks, with 
which we shall take leave of this subject : 

*' Though we have honestly endeavoured to give the reader an idea 
of the scope and contents^ the form and design, of the Letters of Obscure 
Men, we must yet in conclusion make the disheartening confession, 
that we have undertaken what it is impossible properly to perform. 
To point out, in one word, in what precbely this impossibility consists 
— it lies in the language of our epistles. As it is the obscure men of 
the commencement of the sixteenth century themselves who speak, 
they do so in the language of their time — that is, in a sort of Latin (if 
it can be so called) such as had arisen in the coiu-se of the middle ages, 
from the grafting of ecclesiastical and vernacular elements of speech on 
the original stock. This dialect is comic in this, that it is in fact at 
every step in contradiction to the laws of classical Latinity, and yet 
is a language which, as one can still perceive at the present day, was 
once living and actually spoken. In the same way as respects the 
[imaginary] writers of the letters, they are, in spite of the glaring con- 
tradiction in which their procedure stands to reason and cultivation, 
yet as self-consistent, as well pleased with themselves and with each 
other, as a Falstaff or any other genuine subject of comedy has ever 
been. This comic character, however, is inseparable from the Latinity. 
It escapes in translation. The Latin language has undergone tins 
ridiculous kind of corruption in its passage through the middle ages and 
through nations of different tongues. No form in which the translator 
may handle the Gkrman or any other language can reproduce the im- 
2)re3sion of the original." 

Our failing space warns us to pass more rapidly over the re^^ 


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308 Sirauss's Life of Ulrich van Hutten. 

Hiaining years of Ulrich von Hutten's life. On his return from 
Italy in 1517, his poetic and patriotic services received imperial 
acknowledgment in the laurel crown with which^ on the 12th of 
July^ Maximilian's own hand decorated him at Augsburg. In 
the same year he entered the service of the enlightened, though 
worldly prelate, Albert, Archbishop of Mentz and Elector of 
Brandenbuig, — soon, as cardinal, to be a prince of the Church as 
well as of the empire. In 1518 he accompanied his master to 
the Diet at Augsburg, convoked to consider the Pope's design of 
a European war against the Turks, whose conquests under the 
<Tuel and ambitious Selim gave good grounds for alarm. Hut* 
ten's voice had already been raised in warning.* He watched 
the proceedings of the Diet with intense interest. His disap- 
pointment at its pacific conclusion was probably diminished by 
the tsiCt that it involved the refusal of the tithes which the Pope 
demanded for the prosecution of the projected war, but which 
were sure to have been spent in ministering to the corrupt splen- 
dour of the Koman court. 

In the following year Hutten took up arms in the war which 
the Swabian league carried on successfully against his old enemy 
Ulrich of Wurtembuig, and launched against him a fifth of those 
declamatory invectives of which we have already spoken. In 
this campaign he formed an affectionate and serviceable friend- 
ship with the celebrated Franz von Sickingen, half independent 
prince, half robber chief. Even Hutten's restless spirit, however, 
to which action was as necessary as the air he breathed^ began 
now, after labours and trials so exhausting, to feel the need of 
repose. He indulged in day-dreams of tranquil literary leisure 
and married happiness. He had already given expression to his 
annoyance at the restraints and formality of court life in a dia- 
logue entitled Aula.\ The munificence of his patron Albert of 
Mentz relieved him froui the necessity of service, while continuing 
to him the salary of his office. 

His dream of domestic quiet and literary retirement was soon 
dispelled. The contentions for the imperial throne which fol- 
lowed on the death of Maximilian in January 1519, opened out 
many questions of policy and patriotism affecting the relations of 
Germany to the Papal court. The Lutheran controversy, which 
Hutten had despised as a stupid monkish quarrel, now presented 
itself to him in its true light. It was impossible that he should 
remain long a mere spectator of the stru^le. The rest of his 

* Ulrichl de Hutten ad Priacipes GermanisB, ut bellnm Turcis inyebant, ex- 

t The title-page is quaint enough to be g^ven at length: it shows how the 
art of puffing accompanied the revival of letters. ** Ulrichi de Hutten Eq. Oerm. 
Aula. Dialogus. Bes est nova, Lector, res est jucunda, lusus perurbanua et facetus : 
dispeream nisi legisse roles. Vale. Cum privilegio impenali.'^ 

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8trau99^8 Life of Ulrich von Hutten. ' 80& 

life is, as Stranss calls it, a battle against Rome. We can do no 
more than briefly trace the knight's personal fortunes to his early 
death in 1523, four years from the period at which we have now 

fiy unceasing attacks, chiefly in the form of satiric dialogue^ 
on the comiptions and aggressions of the Church, Hutten £*ew 
down upon Mmself the anger of the Pope. Hearing that orders 
had been issued to send him in chains to Rome, he took refuge^ 
in September 1520, with his friend Franz von Sickingen at the 
Castle of Ebemburg. From this safe retreat he renewed his at- 
tacks in verse and prose. 

The enthusiasm which Luther's boldness, especially in the 
burning of the Papal bull that condemned his writings, had 
roused, showed that the questions on which the Reformation 
depended had taken deep hold of the popular mind; the victory 
or defeat of the good cause hung on its gaining and keeping the 
sympathies of the people. To them, and not to scholars and 
princes merely, the appeal must be made. Hutten was too quick- 
sighted not to perceive this, and too prompt not to act upon his 
perception. He had hitherto written only in Latin; henceforth 
he b^an to write in Grerman also, and translated some of his 
earlier works into the vernacular. The poems, dialogues, and 
letters, which he poured out with such astonishing rapidity from 
his retreat at Ebemburg did not exclusively engage him. He 
read Luther's works with Sickingen, and raised his friend's en- 
thusiasm for the great Reformer and his hatred of Rome almost 
to the height and intensity of his own. In several of Hutten's 
later dialogues, Sickingen, like the Socrates of Plato, is the in- 
terlocutor to whom the author's own sentiments are intrusted, 
and through whom, as in the Robbers {Pradones), he urges the 
union of the commonalty and peasantry with the equestrian order, 
in resistance to the civil and intellectual tyranny, and the greedy 
extortions of the priesthood. 

Hutten's restless spirit, however, pined under his enforced 
confinement. It was better to be a prisoner at Ebemburg than 
a prisoner at Rome; but to be a prisoner at all chafed him be- 
yond the limits of endurance. To be obliged to sit down and 
write, when he would be up and doing, was hard to be borne. 
His violence and extravagance, natural as they were to him, were 
exaggerated by the denial of a proper field for his activity. He 
was for immediate recourse to arms against Rome and the em- 
pire. Happily these headstrong counsels were overruled. 

During Sickingen's service in the war with France, in 1521, 
Hutten sought another concealment, where he was so well con- 
cealed that his hiding-place is to this day unknown. Rejecting 
liberal offers from the French king, he wandered to Basel, where 

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310 8trau8t?8 lAfe of Ulrich von Hutten. 

Erasmus then resided. The latter^ a&aid of the consequences of 
intimacy with one so little in &vour in high places^ refused to 
^ee his former friend. An angry personal controversy was the 
consequence. The magistracy of Basely fearful of harbouring 
him^ requested him to leave their city. He proceeded to Miihl- 
hausen. Here he heard of the failure of Sickingen^s freebooting 
expedition against Bichard^ Archbishop and Elector of Treves ; of 
his retreat to Landstuhl; of its investment and capture^ and of 
the hero's death. His stay at Miihlhausen was short. The rabble^ 
incited by the partisans of the old ecclesiasticism^ threatened his 
safety^ and he was compelled to make his escape by night to 
Zurich^ where, at the hands of the reformer Zwiugli, " he sought 
and found protection, help, and consolation." 

Presently he retired to the little island of U&au, in the lake 
of Zurich; and there, not unattended by friendly ministrations, 
breathed his last, after a short but violent illness, towards the end 
of August or the beginning of September 1523, being then thirty^ 
five years and four months old. 

The faults of Hutten's character lie on the surface, and it 
requires no particular acuteness to discern them. They are those 
of a warm and passionate temperament. But his merits are as 
conspicuous, — courage, unselfishness, a ready enthusiasm for 
what he believed to be true and right, ardent patriotism, and 
quenchless love of liberty. He lived for great and worthy ends, 
for which he was satisfied to spend and be spent. Mr. Hallam 
thinks that Hutten's early death is more likely '' to have spared 
the reformers some degree of shame than to have deprived them 
of a useful supporter." It may be so. Hutten was one of a 
class of men needful at the commencement, often dangerous in 
the subsequent course of revolutions ; powerful to set the forces 
of change in motion, but little skilful to control and guide their 
movement. Such men have their place, and do their work; and 
are to be judged of by what they are, rather than by what they 
arc not. His life, to use his biographer's words, is a rebuke ''to 
those who would without a struggle again hand over to Bome^ 
and to a priesthood in the interest of Borne, the keys of the con- 
science and intellectual cultivation of the German races;" and 
yet more so *' to those who would plant a new popedom in the 
very bosom of Protestantism itself, — to the princes who make 
their will their law, and to the scholars to whom circumstances 
and motives of prudence are more than the truth." 

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[ 311 ] 


Bibliotlieca Classica: edited by George Long:, M.A., and the Rev. 
A. J. Macleane, M.A. — Publii Terentii Comosdue Sex; with a 
Commentary by the Rev. E. St. John PaiTy, M.A.— •Tifu^na/M et 
Perm Satins; with a Commentary by the Rev. A. J. Macleane, 

Tlie Speech of Cicero for Aulus Cliientius Habitus; with Prolego- 
mena and Notes by William Ramsay, M.A. Trin. Col, Camb., 
Professor of Humanity in the University of Glasgow. 

Lectures on Roman Husbandry^ delivered before the University of 
Oxforf. By Charles Daub'eny, M.D., Professor of Botany and 
Rural Economy in the University of Oxford. 

That till within the last few years the Greek and Latin lan- 
guages have been cultivated in this country, each after a dis- , 
tinct fashion, we suppose will be generally acknowledged. The 
cause, or at least one very sufficient cause, is plain enough. 
We do not often possess a familiar and a critical acquaintance 
with the same thing. The process by which the former is ac- 
quired blunts our ardour for the latter. We do not make a 
psychological study of our father and mother. We do not get 
up the Tvnxea Newspaper with a gazetteer and an atlas. These 
are things to be enjoyed as parts of our daily life ; not to stand 
off from us, and be critically probed and dissected. Latin, ac- 
cordingly, under the old-fashioned system of education was not 
learned scientifically, because it was learned so easily and so col- 
loquially ; it grew up with us, and became as it were a second 
mother-tongue. It was not then one of several accomplish- 
ments which make up the educated man. It underlay them 
all. A professor of Latin was deemed as superfluous as a pro- 
fessor of English. Greek, on the contrary, was a specialty — a 
thing to be pursued, if a man had a turn for it ; not otherwise. 
Add to this the confessedly greater difficulty* of learning Greek, 
which rendered critical commentaries indispensable when it 
came to be generally studied ; and we shall nave said all that 
IS necessary in illustration of the fact laid down. 

But of late years a change has come over scholarship. The 
tradition, which lingered on through the first quarter of the 
present century, is fast dying out. The habit of Latin com- 
position is no longer enforced with pristine stringency ; other 
branches of knowledge divert the infant mind from that ex* 

« Conf. De Quinoey's Esi ay upon Bentley. 

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812 -Becent Cmtribuiwns to the Study of Latin Literature. 

clusiveness of diet which is necessary to even partial assimila- 
tion. Latin, therefore, is taking its place among other objects 
of study ; and is becoming a subject of curiosity rather than of 
lore. As we say of men, that it is only after their death we 
can form a just estimate of their characters, so, now that Latin 
has ceased to be spoken, and is fast ceasing to be written, we 
begin to investigate its elements. It is becoming that formid- 
able affair, "a matter of history/' Our annotations are be- 
coming philological and idiomatic : Madvig is becoming gene- 
rally known, — Oxford has established a professor ; and we may 
almost say that the transition state of Latin scholarship is conr 
eluded, and that a new era has commenced. 

This is the first point to be noticed. The second is, the 
completeness of the equipments with "which all new classical 
editions are now ushered into the world Gray, who lamented 
the multiplication of Lexicons a century ago, for its tendency 
to impair the quality of English scholarship, would lift his 
hands in horror could he witness the growth of dissertations, 
introductions, excursuses, appendices, and other aids to the 
indolent, which these latter days have brought forth. The 
poet's objection was well-founded. Such auxiliaries, however 
valuable for reasons hereafter to be mentioned, have undoubt- 
edly had one ill effect. Our scholarship is comparatively crude. 
And if any young aspirant would know the reason why, let him 
take some portion of a classical author with which he is wholly 
unacquainted, and endeavour to master it thoroughly without 
any external assistance. The process will be analogous to that 
of chewing the bodily food ; and he will find that not only has 
he digested this subject as he never digested one before, but 
that he has gained a real step in education, and at the same 
time invigorated his intellectual powers more than ten times 
the same amount of reading would have done, pursued under 
the ordinary system. His progress, we admit, will be slow. All 
those little words which he is apt to pass over as unimportant, 
when his Lexicon has supplied him with the leading idea of the 
sentence, will now be, as it were, put to the torture, and com- 
pelled to shed their quota of light upon the meaning of the 
whole. As an idiom which he could not comprehend in the 
third page, recurs in the tenth, and again, perhaps, in the 
twentieth, under different combinations, its radical significance 
will gradually dawn upon his mind, never to be again forgotten. 
The moods and voices of verbs, and the varying force of com- 
pounds, will now become matter of serious consideration. Of 
the technical allusions, some, as he reads on, will explain them- 
selves, and others he will carefully set aside for separate in- 
quiry. Till at last, by pursuing this exhaustive process, he 

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HecerU Contributions to the Study of Latin Literature. 818 

'Will be astonished at the comparatiyely small residuum of real 
difficulties ; and from the immobility of the knowledge he has 
acquired in the mean time, will be able to form some estimate 
of the results attained by those whose whole education was 
conducted on more or less the same system. 

It might be thought, that of the two new features in modem 
scholarship here pointed out, the one would compensate for the 
other, — that the scientific study of Latin will do even more 
good than an excess of facilities can do harm. That those who 
really study the language for themselves will find this to be 
the case, is very probable. But the results of philological in^* 
quiry are easily epitomised and tabulated. It is, in fact, one 
of the characteristics of the age, that they should be so pre- 
sented. And the consequence is, that the changed method of 
study will make no difference to the mass of learners ; while 
the encroaching growth of commentaries will supersede even 
that little independent exercise of thought which still is ne- 
cessary to tixe comprehension of some portion of the Latin 

But our best consolation for this state of things is, that it 
was inevitable. It is impossible that young men should con- 
tinue to devote the same space of time to the acquisition of 
classical literature which they did when that, and that alone, 
was the test of a liberal education. Scholarship, therefore, 
must either perish or change its character. And, as certainly 
it will not be denied, even by those who do not appreciate a 
familiarity with the subjunctive mood, that it is for the good 
of society that a knowledge of ancient history, and a taste for 
the classic models should stUl flourish amongst us, we must ad- 
mit the necessity of making the ascent of Parnassus easier and 
more inviting at the outset, even though we sacrifice something 
valuable in the process. To change our metaphor, scholarship 
is now in its old age, and must be sustained by artificial means. 
This is a truth on which the editors of the works we have se- 
lected for illustration have certainly acted, whether they have 
recognised it or not. And, in fact, all the Latin volumes of 
the BibHotheca Glassica which we have read are even more re- 
markable for the care bestowed upon accessories than for criti- 
cal commentary on the text itself. 

Mr. Parry's Terence is an admirable case in point For the 
last fifty years or so, and perhaps longer, Terence has not, with 
one or two well-known exceptions, been included within the 
ordinary curriculum of school or college reading. What was 
the reason ? His works are a magazine of Latinity. There is 
less coarseness in all his six comedies than in a single satire 
of Horaee or Juvenal He is witty, and graceful, and humaiif. 

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314 Recent Contributions to the Study of Latin Literature, 

We can account for it in no other if&j than by the fact^ that 
he lay a little out of the beaten track ; that there were diffi- 
culties connected with the composition of hia plays in which 
college tutors did not care to involve themselves ; and lastly, 
that his versification was a stumbling-block in the eyes of those 
who would have shuddered at a boy reading a Latin poet which 
he could not scan. But now all these difficulties have been 
driven from the field. Terence is placed before us in a jwsi- 
tively appetising shape The history of his plays, his metres 
and scansion, and his position in Roman literature, are all am* 
ply discussed. The young beginner is positively pampered witli 
commentary, and is coaxed into reading an act or two through 
sheer shame of allowing so much learning to be wasted on him. 
While his instructor can get up almost all that it is needful 
for him to know in a single morning. That this edition, there- 
fore, will lend a wholesome incentive to the study of Terence, 
and act, through him, upon the general popularity of Latin 
literature, we sincerely believe We trust to see him placed 
on a level for educational purposes with Virgil and Horace, and 
his easy idiomatic Latin as familiar in the mouths of school- 
boys as the flowing periods of Cicero, or the artful couplets 
of Ovid. 

Although, however, it has fallen to Mr. Parry's lot to be the 
chosen instrument of editing what we do not affect to doubt 
will be the standard edition of Terence, we cannot in justice 
award him any higher praise than that of industriously col- 
lecting, and skilfully employing, a mass of scattered commen- 
tary previously in existence. Some of this, he tells us, he had 
not seen till after his own was finished, and has arrived at the 
same conclusion with previous investigators by an independent 
line of thought We willingly give him the benefit of this 
avowal, and will now briefly run over the various important 
improvements embodied in the present volume 

His essay on Terentian metres derives its principal intrinsic 
value from being written in English. Bentley had done the real 
work ; and, in the chief points where Mr. Parry has improved 
on that great scholar, he had been anticipated, as he admits, 
by Professor Key. The modern theories embraced under the 
heads of sjmizesis and synalcepha had been enunciated in the 
Joumai of Education, They relate principally to the system 
of Roman pronunciation. For Bentley's dictum, that such words 
as habenty cave, Sec, at the beginning of a line, shorten the 
last syllable even where it is long by position, they substitute a 
contraction of the word into one syllable, pronouncing habent 
*ha'ent/ like the English *hanV for 'have not' and *canV for 
' cannot/ and in the same way making cave into cau ; and most 

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Recent Contribuiions to the Study of Latin Literature. 815 

of the cases which Bentley had explained by hiatus they bring 
under the head of synaloepha, or coalition between the final 
vowel or syllable ending in m and- the initial vowel of the fol- 
lowing word ; " for elision," says Mr. Parry, " in our sense of 
the word, was unknown to the Romans." 

A more interesting question to the general reader will be, 
the extent to which Terence was indebted to his Greek pre- 
decessors. We have little doubt that Mr. Parry has adopted 
the correct theory. After bringing together in a compact com- 

Eass all the fragments of Menander which Terence is said to 
ave imitated, and observing that "a close comparison will show 
that he did not, at all events, servilely imitate his master; 
that if he "copied from a Greek original, he drew with a Roman 
pencil, and kept in view his own theory of dramatic excellence 
as well as the necessity of suiting a very different audience to 
that which listened to. Menander," — he proceeds to argue from 
the abundance of Greek literature which existed at Rome in 
his time, that he probably drew largely from other sources as 
well as from Menander. Thus it is the very extent of his pla- 
giarisms which proves him not to have been a plagiarist ; and 
he illustrates his opinion by the analogous freedom with which 
Shakespeare helped himself to the materials which lay ready to 
his hand. 

We have no doubt, we say, that this view is in the main 
correct It has been already adopted by Eoenighoff, in his 
essay entitled De ratione quain Terentius in fabulis Gh^cecis 
Latine canveiiendis secutiis est, commentatio,* Nor are other 
reasons wanting, both a priori and ct posterioi^, why Terence 
niust have been a very much more original writer than is com- 
monly supposed. 

The period of Roman history in which Terence wrote dif- 
fered widely from the period of Athenian history in which 
Menander was popular. Terence wrote in the flow of national 
greatness ; Menander, in the ebb. The one addressed himself 
to an audience buoyant, vigorous, and full of animal life ; the 
other was listened to by critics, philosophers, and dreamers. 
The Roman's was the era of unconsciousness and hope ; the 
Athenian's, of self-seeking and despondency. Little did a 
people with the affairs of the world upon their hands care 
about the moral or religious problems which occupied the 
countrymen of Menander. The unpolished centurion, fresh 
from Pydna or the Tagus, would laugh his horse-laugh at the 
lying knaveries of the Greek slave or parasite. He would turn 
away in disgust from the sententious rhetoric of the sceptical 
gentleman. Thus we find in Terence little or nothing of that 

• ColoniaD, 1843. 

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316 Recent Contributions to the Study of Latin Literature. 

melancholy and reflectiye tone which would seem to have cha* 
racterised Menander. We have few apophthegms^ but plenty 
of "good business.'' His comedies, in a word, are thoroughly 
popular and mirthful Toned down by his intercourse with 
the most cultivated society in Rome ; but such, nevertheless, 
as the most ordinary society could enjoy. 

In the next place, the fact that he shook himself free from 
the trammels of the Greek senarius, though condemned by 
Quinctilian, has been generally approved by modem critics, 
and undoubtedly should have great weight in determining our 
judgment on the question. While, thirdly, the very small num- 
ber of parallel passages cited by the ancient writers affords a 
strong presumption that Terence ought rather to be regarded 
as of Menander's school than as either a copyist or a plagiarist 
of that author. This point has been well put by Eoenighoff : 

'* Sed hsdc insignia cujusdam inter Latinum et quern hie imitatione 
effingebat Grsecum Poetam simihtudinis ezempla hand scio an tantum 
absit ut Terentio officiant, ut suspicionem ilium ubique se poetse quem 
interpretatur in servitutem quasi addixisse ab eo removere videantur. 
Advertit scilicet scholiastam sicubi Grseca et Latina nihil fere inter se 
differre vidit, ita ut quod cum lectoribus communicaretur dignum ha- 
beret. Foeta autem Latinus si hunc morem semper tenuisset qui tan* 
dem causae excogitari possit ut talia hie illic adnotare, plerumque 
negligere scholiastae in mentem venerit ?" 

Considering, therefore, that the spirit of his plays is Roman, 
and not Greek ; that he has followed his own taste in the se- 
lection of metres ; and that the instances of imitation, when 
we remember the materials at his command, are remarkably 
few, — we shall not be far wrong in believing that Terence has 
been unduly depreciated : and we trust, as we have already 
said, that he will soon resume his proper place in the front 
rank of Latin literature. 

As a critical scholar, Mr. Parry's performance does not seem 
in any way remarkable. He is very careful, and has evidently 
not neglected to fortify all his opinions by reference to the 
best authorities. He is entirely free from the disagreeable 
dogmatism of Mr. Macleane, or the tendency to irrelevant dis- 
sertation which is a fault in Mr. Long. But he has no preten- 
sions to the scholarship of the latter gentleman. His notes, 
however, are useful, and, we should think, correct; while in 
every thing relating to the framework and form of the plays 
he is certainly all we can desire. We should add, that Mr. 
Parry has followed Bentley in affixing a copious index verbo^ 
rum etphroMum to his volume. 

Mr. Macleane's principal fault we have indicated. He is 

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Recent Contribuiums to the Study of Latin Literature. 317 

too fond of dogmatising on doubtful points, and of lashing 
rival editors on insignificant ones ; but in all other respects 
his work is worthy of the series. His short life of JuvenaJ, 
put together wholly from the evidence furnished by the Satires, 
is ingenious, lucid, amd probabla The abstracts prefixed to 
each satire are such as to rob the most unwilling traveller 
along the classic road of any excuse for loitering. They are 
very often almost as serviceable as a prose translation ; and, 
barring the evil effects before alluded to, must be accepted as a 
valuable aid toward perpetuating the study of JuvenaL They 
do not supersede the necessity of dictionary and grammar, but 
they give the clue to the author's meaning; and if they do not 
fix it in a boy's mind so firmly as the old-fashioned process, 
they at least prevent his being discouraged so readily. We 
are glad to see also that Mr. Macleane is an enemy to expur- 
gated editipns ; indeed, in the case of an edition like the pre- 
sent, which, we presume, is intended as a monument of English 
scholarship, it would seem unnecessary to argue the question. 
Mr. Macleane, however, has thought it advisable in his preface 
to make the following brief allusion to the subject : 

'' I have not thought it right to omit any part of these Satires. 
The character of the writers is seen throughout, and the spirit even of 
the coarsest parts is manifestly that of virtue. I have had some ex- 
perience of boys, and I believe that those are exceptions on whom such 
passages as are usually expunged are likely to have an injurious effect. 
Wantonness is one thing, and the stem reproof of wantonness in terms 
it best understands is another ; and few minds fail to see the difference." 

Of this, we think, there can be no doubt. But the harm- 
lessness of ancient writers does not, in our opinion, depend 
on any distinction which exists between wantonness and the 
" stem reproof of wantonness."' No doubt there is such a dif- 
ference ; but it is one which influences rather our estimate of 
the writer's character than the effect produced by his writings. 
For instance, nobody would deny that Congreve wrote wan- 
tonly, and that Richardson intended to "reprove wantonness;" 
but if we take the most highly wrought scene in the Beau's 
Straiagemy and compare it with a well-known parallel passage 
in Pamela, it will be impossible to doubt that the latter is the 
more dangerous of the two. SmoUet, again, always professed 
to be " reproving wantonness" in Ferdinand Count Fathoniy yet 
a more prurient and corrupting narrative does not exist in 
English literature. Delineations of vice, whether moral or 
immoral, have little bad effect upon boys when confined to re- 
mote persons and unfamiliar scenes ; what is to be dreaded 
is, descriptions of vice which represent it as easy, accessible, 
and contigaouB, — which are inconsistent with the virtue of 

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318 Recent Contributions to the Study of Latin Literature. 

people whom we meet every day, and insinuate the corrupti- 
bility of dependants or inferiors. It is not the ancient satirist, 
but the modem novelist) who is injurious to the morals of the 
young. A lad of sixteen or seventeen might read over the 
Sixth Satire of Juvenal twenty times without any loose wish 
being awakened by it. Vice is there presented to him in such 
a totally strange dress, that he knows it not What have the 
filthy orgies of the Roman senatresses to do with him ? It is 
like reading of the Yahors. What feelings can be roused in 
him by the monstrous and distorted shapes which ordinary im- 
morality assumes in those i>ages, but a mixture of wonder and 
loathing ? None. But probably not even these emotions are 
excited in one case out of fifty. We appeal to all our public- 
school readers, if they did not take Appia and CatuUa too much 
as a matter of course, to give even a passing thought to the 
nature of their proceedings. Do they remember that these pass- 
ages were ever made the subject of indecent jokes, or served 
as a prelude to obscene conversation ? If so, their experience 
is very different from our own, and from that of all our ac- 
quaintances. We believe that these descriptions are ground up 
in a common mill with the rest of the lesson — that they excite 
nobody, and suggest nothing. It is therefore, we think, a satis- 
factory feature in the present publication, that it repudiates the 
theory of suppression. Nothing is gained, we are certain, by 
'• driving vice inwards." It is better to have it on the surface. 
Familiarity breeds contempt, but concealment excites interest. 
And as we are quite certain that a boy who is proof against 
all other influences will never be corrupted by the Classics, we 
trust that this stupid old system of expurgation is exploded 
for ever. 

As a critical commentator, Mr. Macleane is, of course, valu- 
able. Yet, of all the contributors to the Bibliotheca Classica, 
he is the one with whom we feel oftenest inclined to differ. 
He seems, to us at least, to have a special knack of taking the 
least plain and straightforward interpretation of a disputed 
passage; while his positive manner of laying down the law, 
and affecting to ridicule his rivals, is a clumsy caricature of 
Bentley. We must support these assertions by a few examples, 
premonishing our readers that it is not upon any question of 
technical scholarship that we enter the lists with Mr. Macleane, 
but solely upon points which common sense is adequate to 

In the 93d line of the first satire, Juvenal, speaking of the 
gambling mania at Rome, writes : 

— '^ simplexne furor sestertia centum 
Podere et horrenti tuxiicam non jpeddere Bervo," 

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On ivhich Mr. Macleane's note is : 

'^ The more than madness lay in the selfishness of the man who (as 
Heinrich explains it), alter losing all his money, stakes his slave's jacket; 
and losing that also, never restores it. The commentators compare 
Pcrsius (i. 54) : * Scia comitem horridulum tritA donare lacem&.' But 
reddere means here to restore, and is never equivalent to the simple 
form dcure'^ 

Now it seems to us that this interpretation, besides being rather 
strained, destroys the antithesis : '^ To lose bis hundreds at 
the gaming-table, while his servants go in rags." The word 
reddere^ though not equivalent to the simple dare, is commonly 
used of fulfilling an engagement, as reddere promissay prcemia; 
and we may easily suppose that a Roman master was under 
some sort of engagement to supply his slaves with clothing. 
The word may not be used here in the sense in which Persius 
uses donare, i.e. to make a voluntary present That, indeed, 
would weaken the force of the passage. But it seems much 
more reasonable to understand it of the ordinary relations be- 
tween master and servant than as Mr. Macleane explains it. 
At line 95 of the same satire, Juvenal says : 

". . . . turn sportula priino 
Limine parva sedet turha) rapienda togatai." 

The spo7*tula being, as our readers will remember, a dole of 
meat served out by the rich to their dependants. Mr. Mac- 
leane says of the word togatce : 

" Euperti says this is spoken contemptuously, because, imder the 
Emperors, only the poorer and vulgar sort wore the toga. This is 
nonsense. He refers to Hor. S. i. 2. 63, 82; which only shows that 
women of bad character wore a toga instead of a stola. The toga was 
worn out of respect to the great man, and it was counted bad taste for 
any person of respectability to go abroad without it. At one time it 
became common for persons of family to go to the theatre without the 
toga ; and Augustus put a stop to the practice. Turba togata, gens 
togcUa, were commonly used for the Eomans.*' 

We believe that togatus was a distinctive epithet of the poor. 
How often, or on what occasions, the toga was worn by the rich 
we do not know ; but evidently so seldom as to make it an 
unmistakable mark of inferiority. The order of Augustus is a 
sufficient proof of its unpopularity ; and there is a couplet in 
Martial which would seem to imply that its use was still con- 
fined to the theatre. Of white cloaks he says : 

^' Amphitheatrales uos commendamur ad usus 
Quum tegit algentes alba lacema togas." 

But Martial is full of allusions which show that the toga was 

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820 Recent Contributions to the Study of Latin Literature, 

spoken of " contemptuously." In sending a large woollen cloak, 
called endromis, to a friend, he says : 

'* Paiiperis ert munus, t3ed non est pauperis ubob; 
Banc tibi pro togul^ mittimus endiomida ;" 

implying that the endromis was for the rich man, and the toga 
for the poor. 
Elsewhere : 

'^ Exigis a nobis operam sine fine togatam. 
Non eo, libertum sed tibi mitto meum ;'* 

the opera togata being suited to a Itbertus. 
Again : 

*' Nee vocat ad coenam Marius, nee munera mittit> 
Nee spondet, nee vult eredere, sed nee habet. 
Turba tamen non deest, sterilem qu83 curet amicum. 
£heu^ quam fatuao sunt tibi, Boma, togae." 

%, e. your poor fortune-hunters. 

In the only three passages in which the word occurs in Ju- 
venal, it is coupled with some degrading association (viA viL 162; 
viil 49). And after an attentive consideration of these pass-> 
ages, we cannot see how it can be doubted that toaatus is used 
of a particular class, and not of Romans generally. Whether 
this was because the upper classes had left off the toga, which 
seems the most probable, or only because the lower classes 
were seen in it in particular situations which more especially 
invited ridicule, we would not imitate Mr. Madeane by decid- 
ing positively. It seems likely that the toga continued to be 
the " best clothes" of the poor after it had gone out of fashion 
with the rich ; and, at all events, there is no excuse whatever 
for Mr. Macleane's imputation of " nonsense" to his predecessor. 

In sat. iii. 31, we have the well-known passage : 

'^ Quls faeile est s&des conducere, flumina, portus, 
Siocandam eluviem, portandum ad busta cadaver, 
£t prssbere caput dominft venaie sub hastiL '* 

On this Mr. Macleane has : 

"A sale by auction on the public account, as of confiscated property, 
or for recovery of fines, or of the property of a man dying without will 
or heirs, or any thing else, was called sectio. It was conducted by a 
jjrcBCo in the presence of a public officer, and a spear was set up on 
the spot where the auction took place. It may have been called do- 
mina in this place, because the sale transferred to the purchaser domi' 
nium, or ownership, in the thing purchased. Euperti's conjecture of 
dominis is very bad. The spear is said to have been derived from the 
practice followed in old times in the selling of prisoners and booty on 
the field of battle." 

Now this note is inadequate in itself, and, at the same time, 

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very unfair to Ruperti. A tax was paid to the state upon 
every thing sold in the forum. Artorius and Catulus farmed 
this tax. Caput venaie = capita venaHa= servos venales. The 
hasta was the signal of the auction; and it was called domina 
because it regulated, and^ so to speak, presided over, the pro- 
ceedings. Mr. Macleane's explanation of this word seems far- 
fetched in the extreme. Ruperti, in whose edition of 1820 we 
see no signs of a reading dominis, has, we think, explained 
it better than this. He takes it to mean IiaMa domini, and to 
refer to the " magistrate,"" whose presence gave validity to the 
transaction. There are passages in Ovid, one of which he cites, 
where dominus is used as an adjective in the same sense, e,g,: 
" S»piu8 ad dominum aerva yocata torum.'* 

But the simpler and more Juvenalian interpretation is to make 
it an epithet of haMa^ with the meaning we have here assigned. 
In iil Slb'fin. Umbricius, in taking farewell of his friend, 
begs him, when next he runs down to Aquinum for a little fresh 
air, to send over for himself from Cumas ; adding : 

^< Satirarum ego, nl pudet illas, 
Adjutor gelidos yeniaxu caligatus in agros." 

Now caligatus has always been understood to mean " equipped 
for war."" But listen to the lofty contempt of our editor : 

'^ 320. Ni pudet HUta, * if they are Dot ashamed of me '^ that is, if 
your satires will condescend to accept my help, I will put on my boots 
and come to you. The caligm were thick hobnailed shoes worn by 
soldiers. Here it appears the name was given to very thick shoes, such 
as a man would wear in the country. The notion of the comment- 
ators about his going to Juvenal dressed like a soldier is wonderful." 

We confess that our own wonder arises from another source. 
Why, nobody ever meant that the man was actually to put on a 
uniform, jack-boots and all ! Does any body suppose, when the 
parliamentary campaign is talked of, that the debates are to 
come off at Aldershott ? When Mr. Disraeli is called a gladia- 
tor, does any one mean that he eats raw beef, and comes down 
to the House of Commons with a short sword, and dressed in a 
petticoat and helmet ? Or, lastly, when Mr. Macleane *' took 
the field'" against all these silly critics, did he ever in reality 
move out of his own library? We cannot comprehend the pro- 
siness of mind which dictates such a note as the above. But 
besides the inherent beauty of the image, there are two other 
very good reasons why caligatus should have a martial mean- 
ing. In the first place, both Horace and Juvenal describe the 
composition of their satires in metaphors drawn from warfare ; 
Juvenal especially at the end of the first satire, in the lines 
beginning "erwe velut stricto'* Secondly, Mr. Macleane is driven 

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322 Recent Ccmtribuiions to the Study of Latin Literature. 

to assume a new meaning for the word caliga solely to suit tliis 
passage. And thirdly, to say, ' I will come from one country 
place to another in country shoes' is utterly vapid, ruins the 
antithesis, and is quite foreign to the style of JuvenaL 

We may observe, in passing, that at sat. vi 153, occurs 
another notable instance of Mr. Macleane's unfairness towards 
Ruperti, who is included in the general censure, though he 
quotes at length the very scholar who, according to Mr. Mac- 
leane, has alone given the right meaning of the passage. 

Passing on to the seventh satire, which deals with the status 
of literary men at Rome, we arrive at the famous passage about 
Statius and Paris : 

'^ . . . • sed quuin fregit subsellia versu 
Esurit intactam Paridi nisi vendat Agavcu. 
lUe et militisB multis largitur honorem 
Semestri vatum digitos circumligat auro.'* 

** 88. lU^ et nuUtice. He goes on to say that Paiis used his in- 
fluence with Domitian to get advancement for the poets. Euperti 
says, ' saUe hcec dida.^ It appears to me to be kindly said and kindly 
meant towards Paris, whose conduct is contrasted with that of the 

Now are not these words spoken " aalse ?* Mr. Macleane has 
here been led astray by his anxiety to sneer at Ruperti. The 
sense of the passage seems pretty clear. There might be no 
personal satire aimed at Paris in it, who of course was right 
to get as much power as he could, and who seems to have used 
his influence for the benefit of the literary class ; but there is 
bitter satire against the state of things which made the patron- 
age of such a man possible. 

Further on in tne same satire he says of the lawyers : 

** Ipsi magna sonant, sed tunc quum creditor audit 
Prsacipue, vel si tetigit lacus acrior illo 
Qui venit ad dubiom grandi cum codice nomcn.*' 

Mr. Macleane supposes "creditor' to mean the lawyer's own 
client. We entertain little doubt that Madvig is right in re- 
ferring the word " creditor" to the speaker s own victim. There 
is no valid reason against such a construction, and it is cer- 
tainly more in accordance with the grim humour of the passage. 
We can easily understand how a needy advocate would exert 
himself if he spied his tailor in court There is real fun in 
such a point as this. To say merely that he is more eloquent 
when his client is present, than when he is absent, is feeble 
and frigid in comparison. 

Here is a note, apparently introduced for the sake of a 
snarl at Addison, of which we can make neither head nor tail. 
Juvenal is speaking of early Roman simplicity : 

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*^ Tanc mdis et Graias mirari neBcius artes^ 
UrbibuB eyersis, pnedarum in parto reperta 
Magnomm artificum fran|;cbat pocula miles, 
Ut phalerifi gauderet equus, caslataque cassis 
BomulesB simulacra fene mansuescere jusssB 
Imperii fato, geminos sub rape Quirinos, 
Ac nudam effigiem clypeo venientis et hastd. 
Pendentisque Dei perituro ostenderet hosti." zv. 100- 107, 

On which Mr. Macleane delivers himself as follows : 

'< 106. Ac nudam effigiem. There is supposed to be on the helmet 
a naked figure of Mars coming down from heaven, with shield and 
spear, and still in the air, just as he is represented in a medal of Anto- 
ninus Pius, when he is visiting Ilia asleep. The scholiast, who had 
probably seen this group, says that this is what the soldier has on his 
helmet ; than which nothing can be less probable. Addison {TramdSy 
p. 182) takes credit for this interpretation ; but he might have got it, 

if he did not, from the scholiast There has been a great deal 

written about this passage, but I see no great difficulty in it. Juvenal 
must have seen such a figure as he describes like that on the above 

Now what is the editor s meaning ? He only tells us that 
the scholiast was wrong, and that Addison was doubly wrong ; 
and then adds, that he sees no difficulty in the passage. No 
more do we, at present. But if we agreed to the two first pro- 
positions, we should be at our wit's end. If it does not mean 
that this group was on the helmet, what can it mean ? This 
sort of contemptuous carelessness is very objectionable. It is 
most unsatisfactory to be told of the only solution offered, that 
nothing " can be less probable ;" and then to hear nothing fur- 
ther, but that there is no "difficulty" in the passage. Such 
a course certainly displays an odd notion of the duties of an 

We have not noticed so many as half the passages we had 
marked, but we trust we have done enough to substantiate our 
charges. We say that Mr. Macleane must condescend to the 
infirmities of ordinary men, and give a reason for his eccentric 
opinions, if he really wishes to be useful. He has far too high 
an estimate of his own powers of sarcasm, and seems to have 
forgotten that the world has ceased to care for the quarrels of 
scholars as it once did. Let him prune his next edition of 
some of his favourite epithets, and write a little less ex catlie- 
drd, and his volume will be improved very much. 

The next volume on our list is one from whose merits we 
have no deductions to make. It is a model example of the 

{)resent school of classical criticism. It is well known to scho- 
ars that Cicero's defence of Cluentius is one of the most diffi- 


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824 Recent Contributions to the Study of Latin Literature. 

cult and technical of his speeches ; we make bold to say that 
Professor Ramsay has rendered it one of the easiest and most 
interesting. He has carried out the ideal of a modern editor 
to its fullest extent ; and in so doing, has certainly robbed his 
subject of that " painful preeminence" which Niebuhr assigned 
to it as an instrument of education. This, however, is, as we 
have already stated, only what we must expect The singular 
lucidity and concisen